• Jesse C

The Omnivore’s Dilemma Book Review: Vote With Your Fork

Updated: Jul 6

In his book, The Omnivore‘s Dilemma, Michael Pollan (who wrote a more teen-friendly YA version in 2015) tackles the tough food choices we make, attempting to educate us on the realities about our food choices that we often overlook.

Where exactly does our food come from? In The Omnivore’s Dilemma you will find out exactly that. Michael Pollan explores the realm of 4 different types of meals, and what it takes to get that meal on your plate. You will explore the big differences between the methods and farms of industrial agriculture, compared to that of the family farms. You will find out how corn took over the world (especially the supermarket), what the government will consider organic, what happens at the slaughterhouse, and how you can get food from nature. At the end of each part, Pollan will create a meal from the food produced in each method. To conclude, Pollan encourages the reader to “vote with your fork” and decide for yourself what to eat and how to make the best food choices.

The message of this book is to get readers to understand the reality of food production and to try to make more sustainable food choices for the environment and their health. I agree with this message because if people understand what happens to their food before it reaches their table, they will make better-informed decisions. This ties to the basis of environmental science—sustainability, the goal where humans and the environment establish a mutual relationship.

The book’s connection to the idea of sustainability is important to emphasize. We want the earth’s resources to be around for a long time, and we don’t want to deplete them or hurt the environment. I found it interesting that the book talks about how the farmers used an excess of nitrogen-rich synthetic fertilizer to grow corn. Many of you may know about the nitrogen cycle and the effects of too much fertilizer. It caused runoff into ditches and ultimately to eutrophication into the nearby bodies of water. Moreover, for food that needs to be carried long distances, a lot of fossil fuels are used, contributing to air pollution. Examples such as these fortify the fact that how we eat and what we buy at the grocery store truly does affect the environment. Industrial food is the cheaper option due to government subsidization, but it is not ideal. Organic and minimally processed foods may be less economically viable, but it is sustainable and is a great habit if you want to curb your carbon footprint and benefit the environment.

Finally, Pollan tells us to “vote with your fork.” We might not be able to vote on environmental laws and have a direct impact on political decisions. While we cannot vote in ballots, we can choose what we eat and put them into our bodies. By choosing what food to buy, we are supporting that organization and its foods. For example, if you buy chicken from family farms, that means you are helping that business and “voting” for healthy foods.

Vote with your fork and foster the environmental change you want to see!

Jesse Chippindale (TeensForNature) 💚

Pollan, M. (2006). The omnivore's dilemma: A natural history of four meals. New York: Penguin Press.

Pollan, M. (2015). The omnivore's dilemma: The secrets behind what you eat. New York: Penguin Press.

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