Omnivore's Dilemma

Omnivore's Dilemma - 1 HPS Nov. 29th, 2007 In The...

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HPS Nov. 29 th , 2007 In The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals , Michael Pollan writes a personal narrative based on observations, experiences, and interests of the three principal food chains governing the American “food system”- industrial, organic, and hunter-gatherer (Pollan 7). “When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety, especially when some of the potential foods on offer are liable to sicken or kill you.” This is the omnivore’s dilemma (Pollan 3). There are two important ideas that I have taken from reading this book. First off, I am convinced that Americans suffer from a national eating disorder based on super- sized, corn-fed diets that is directly linked to the industrial food chain. Secondly, after reading Pollan’s section on the organic food chain, finding my nearest farmers’ market (or Polyface Farm) has never seemed more important. Pollan has changed many of my opinions of the American food system, and has helped me learn about my own eating dilemmas. Health and nutrition problems trace back to things that happen on the farm and are influenced by specific government policies, one of them being the subsidizing of corn. Between 1995 and 2005, the U.S. government paid farmers a total subsidy of over $51 billion to grow corn (Corn: How Much Do We Eat?). Corn has come to dominate the American diet through a combination of biological (hybrid plants, nitrogen fixation), cultural (amount America eats, processed foods are popular), and political factors (from Nixon’s New Deal to today’s Farm Bill) (Pollan I). How did corn’s supremacy come 1
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about? “Demand for food isn’t elastic; people don’t eat more just because food is cheap” (Pollan 54). However, the government continues to subsidize it and farmers continue to grow it because corn is an efficient crop for a rapidly growing and rapidly eating country like America. The surplus of corn, for example has been used in the processed foods that we eat and in the diets of the livestock that we eat. Furthermore, David Wallerstein introduced the idea of super-sizing in the 1960’s, and portion sizes and America’s waistlines have increased tremendously (Pollan 106). These factors have contributed to health and nutrition problems of today. For one, many of the processed foods we eat are
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This essay was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course HPS 205 taught by Professor Auyash during the Spring '08 term at Ithaca College.

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Omnivore's Dilemma - 1 HPS Nov. 29th, 2007 In The...

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