Monday, October 19, 2009


Every few years a book comes along that challenges the way we think. THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA is just such a book. Michael Pollan's gigantic bestseller was an eye-opening investigation about the way foods are processed on their way to the American table, and its timely arrival signaled a wake-up call for consumers to consider the global implications of their food choices. One million copies have been sold and the book thus far has spent more than 138 weeks (and counting) on The New York Times bestseller list. Pollan has recast THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers trade paperback; $9.99 and a hardcover edition; $17.99) in an adaptation for a younger generation. The timing couldn't be better.

Americans have been slow to understanding and accepting the fact that we are eating a lot of processed foods that are not good for us. Michael Pollan, who has been reporting about food for most of his career, didn't even understand it himself. Pollan's voyage of discovery changed through his investigative pieces on how potatoes are grown or how cattle are raised. "Suddenly that 'happy meal' of hamburger and fries looked a lot less happy," he writes in the Introduction to THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA. Between the feedlot and the potato farm, I realized just how little I knew about the way our food is produced."

Broken down into four "meals," Pollan looks at four ways in which the food for the meals we eat is raised: Industrial (where most food comes from ending in a supermarket or a fast-food restaurant); Industrial Organic (that is food grown on large industrial-type farms, but with natural fertilizers, as well as natural weed and bug control); Local Sustainable (non-processed from local farmers) and Hunter-Gatherer (the least utilized method which individuals hunt, find or grow their own food). Pollan follows the trail of corn and its insidious role in just about every section of the supermarket from dairy and meat to soft drinks, frozen dinners, cookies, donuts and chips. In fact corn is in a shocking number of non-foods too: toothpaste, cosmetics, disposable diapers, trash bags--even batteries.

The new edition comes at a time when childhood obesity is at an all-time high, and THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA offers young readers an absorbing look at how this came to be, offering them choices to make their own decisions about the foods they consume. This illustrated new edition comes with photos, charts, side-bar pieces, a Q and A with Michael Pollan, the latest facts about the food industry, and lots of information about the organically grown foods with tips on finding local, sustainable food sources, plus further resources on the Internet and on video.

"It's an exciting time to be an eater in America," says Pollan in the optimistic Afterword written especially for this edition. "You have choices today that your parents couldn't have dreamed of: organic, local, CSAs (community supported agriculture), humanely raised milk and meat. When they were your age, there was basically only one way to feed yourself: from the industrial food chain," he continues. "You have the option of eating from a very different food chain--you can vote with your fork for a better world, one delicious bite at a time."

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