28 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2007
Michael Pollan's book, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: A NATURAL HISTORY OF FOUR MEALS, (2006) (Omnivore's Dilemma), invites readers to follow Pollan as he uncovers the origins of four vastly different meals. The conceit enables Pollan to explore the complicated food systems on which Americans rely for their daily bread. Pollan explores four food supply systems in particular: industrial, big organic, small organic, and hunter-gatherer. This book review focuses on the industrial food supply, and the small organic alternative. In so doing, the review discusses agriculture policy and explores what has become in some ways a national fixation on family farms. The review seeks to expose the disparity between how we eat - most of our calories provided through the industrial agricultural sector, and how we like to think we eat - our food coming fresh from family farms. The review also discusses some of the paradoxes, or absurdities, that Pollan identifies in the food supply system as we have evolved from hunters-gatherers to consumers of convenience. In some ways, THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA is an unquestionable success, and this review duly notes those successes. The review also addresses a topic raised but not exhausted by Pollan: that is, our national romanticism of the family farm, including an explanation of the status of such farms today. The industrial agriculture food system is implicated in what has become known as the hunger-obesity paradox. The review next explores this paradox and concludes where Pollan begins, by asking, though not attempting to answer, What's for dinner?
Keywords: agriculture, food, hunger, farm
JEL Classification: Q18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Holcomb, Morgan, Our Agricultural Policy Dilemma: The Omivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, By Michael Pollan (2006). Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1004370