Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Ah, the treacherous work of blog maintenance - always seems like a good idea to start, but then to *keep* writing? But I've been very engaged in the book I've been reading lately, so here are some thoughts:

The most shocking thing about reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma is realizing how very little we actually think about what we eat. Even I, a vegetarian who spends a relatively large amount of time reflecting on what I eat and why, had never even scratched the surface of the thoughtful investigation and reflection imparted by this book. Pollan emphasizes the fact that we are, quite literally, what we eat, and in an attempt to further discern what that really is, traces foods back through several chains of production to the ground that it comes from. Corn will never be the same after the first section on industrial agriculture. And, quite surprisingly for me, his chapter on "The Ethics of Eating Animals" made me rethink my reasons for my continued vegetarian diet. Not, of course, that I plan to start eating meat, but rather that my strongest reasons are tied more to the production of meat in America than to the actual act of eating an animal.
But the most delightful parts of this book for me were the descriptions of the divine working of farms - not big industrial ones, of course, but the actual incredible mechanisms interacting with each other in the best places, like Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm, that allow each entity to thoroughly embody their deepest desires in a way that helps each other entity to more fully express theirs.
Oh how I'll mourn the closing of the farmer's markets this winter...