9. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, June 27
This is my second of Michael’s books, and this one was much more my style. I love that he took the time to research and follow through on different meals, to see and learn where our food *actually* comes from.
So few people do.
To follow him through the process was amazing and educational. And it made me also want to start foraging for mushrooms, which I might do once I am out of a country that seems to have more poisonous mushrooms than edible ones.
I think this book, possibly more than In Defense of Food, makes the argument for eating locally, more naturally, and better in general. I’d recommend it to anyone who is uncertain of where their food comes from, or what it takes for that food to get to us or our local grocery stores.
This part really spoke to me and my current state of ‘trying on Vegetarianism for a year‘:
A month or so into the experiment [being a vegetarian] I’m still feeling reluctant about it. I find making a satisfying vegetarian dinner takes a lot more thought and work (chopping work in particular); eating meat is simply more convenient. It’s also more sociable, at least in a society where vegetarians still represent a relatively tiny minority. (Time magazine recently estimated there are 1 million of us in America.) What troubles me most about my vegetarianism is the subtle way it alienates me from other people and, odd as this might sound, from a whole dimension of human experience.
Other people now have to accommodate me, and I find this uncomfortable: My new dietary restrictions throw a big wrench into the basic host-guest relationship. As a guest, if I neglect to tell my host in advance that I don’t eat meat, she feels bad, and if I do tell her, she’ll make something special for me, in which case I’ll feel bad. On this matter I’m inclined to agree with the French, who gaze upon any personal dietary prohibition as bad manners.
Even if the vegetarian is a more highly evolved human being, it seems to me he has lost something along the way, something I’m not prepared to dismiss as trivial. Healthy and virtuous as I may feel these days, I also feel alienated from traditions I value: cultural traditions like the Thanksgiving turkey, or even franks at the ballpark, and family traditions like my mother’s beef brisket at Passover. These ritual meals link us to our history along multiple lines — family, religion, landscape, nation, and, if you want to go back much further, biology. For although humans no longer need meat in order to survive (now that we can get our B- 1 2 from fermented foods or supplements) , we have been meat eaters for most of our time on earth. This fact of evolutionary history is reflected in the design of our teeth, the structure of our digestion, and, quite possibly, in the way my mouth still waters at the sight of a steak cooked medium rare. Meat eating helped make us what we are in a physical as well as a social sense. Under the pressure of the hunt, anthropologists tell us, the human brain grew in size and complexity, and around the hearth where the spoils of the hunt were cooked and then apportioned, human culture first flourished.
You are speaking my language, sir. Thanks for understanding and validating how I feel and the thoughts that go through my head. I fucking miss hot dogs at the ball park, corn dogs in summer, and hamburgers on the grill with my parents.
Again, I’d highly recommend it.