I am a vegetarian (technically, a pescatarian), mostly because of health reasons. I’m not an omnivore by choice, and I never really had to go through any dilemma of what to eat when food was placed before me. But Michael Pollan raises an interesting question that I never thought about: As humans, we are omnivores; so how do we answer the question, “Whats for dinner?”. We can see hamburgers and fries, sushi, rice and beans, PB&J, filet mignon, fruit smoothie. The number of choices is seemingly infinite. Even if you just pick one type of food, say rice, there are so many different types of it and ways to prepare it. There’s brown rice, white rice, long grain, short grain. With vegetables or without? In a casserole? With chicken? In sushi? Do you grow it yourself (that would be hard)? Or buy it from Walmart? Or Whole Foods?
So to explore this dilemma of what to eat and how to eat it, Pollan goes on a journey of preparing and eating four different types of meals. He explores cooking industrially, cooking industrially and organically, cooking from a polycultural farm, and hunting and gathering. I can’t go into full detail of all of his findings (that’s for you to find out when you read the book!), but I will say that I now want to eat everything from a local farm.
It was an enjoyable read, and it was nice to get a glimpse of what was going through Pollan’s mind when he shot his first pig or woke up at 4am to help the interns on the farm get ready for the coming day. The emotive way he describes hunting and gathering was quite surprising to me; I never really saw it as much more than looking at the ground and getting dirty from picking wild fruits in a forest. But there’s a beauty to it and a sense of accomplishment when you’ve found a spot under an oak tree saturated with chanterelles (a type of mushroom).
If you want to know about how we has omnivorous humans relate to the question, “What’s for dinner?” I recommend this book. I’ll also be reading a few of his other books and commenting on them as I finish them (they’re also on food).