Omnivore’s Dilemma

I’ve seen the book Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan a few times and wondered what it was about. With my husband and myself regularly swinging between healthy, plant-based meals, and plates laden with every carnivore’s dream, my interest was rightly piqued right from the title. 

The premise starts out on a very interesting note: why is it that Americans, with all the food choices available and all the knowledge about health and nutrition, are suffering the most from obesity and other food-related problems? Why are Europeans like the French considered the healthiest even with all their cheese-laden foods?

But it was only when my son had this for a required school reading that I made the plunge to buy it—and read it for myself before passing it on to him.

I was alarmed to learn that ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup are the culprit for messing up our satiety-gauge, which causes overeating.
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Omnivore’s Dilemma Findings

It’s not an easy read, and I would recommend you to take it slow. It’s more of a journalistic piece, but I personally believe we can learn things from it and apply it to our family’s lives.

Here are some of the major highlights:

1. The industrialisation of corn

Our family read this book at about the same time we were starting to learn about natural farming. So the chapter on how corn was industrialised, bred, and sold to farmers as seed (that doesn’t re-germinate at the same rate) was heart-wrenching for us to read.

Instead of crops that can naturally be re-seeded and planted, the hybrid varieties caused farmers to depend on the seed companies. Then, it also resulted in farmers opting for planting only corn instead of having an ecologically-friendlier farm with synergy in all its parts, which meant that farmers became less self-sustaining and more at the mercy of market prices and industry players.

2. The problem of processed food

Related with the high demand for corn is the major role that high fructose corn syrup plays in processed food. I was alarmed to learn that ingredients like these are the culprit for messing up our satiety-gauge, which causes overeating. As someone who struggled with food from a young age, this made perfect sense: my childhood diet high in processed food would’ve been a major cause behind all my excess weight.

3. The pressure on farms

Again, maybe it’s only because my family is currently dabbling with farming that the book greatly appealed to us. In addition to the way that corn industrialisation impacted farmers, the demand for fast food ingredients and meat products for processed food also affected the agriculture scene.

The increasing pressure to produce means that many farmers are forced to invest in high-capital equipment, but they end up being in debt and no longer able to provide for their families like they used to.

Food Choices for Our Family

In the end, we are responsible for the choices that we make for our families. But I believe that being informed about where our food comes from and some of the intricacies involved in its production can be helpful. If anything, it can encourage us to buy local or support nearby farms, or perhaps start our own home gardens.

To learn more, check out this book on this Amazon link.

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