Wednesday, 8 November 2017
The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
Omnivores are the animals who prefer both kinds of food- plant origin and animal origin. The best example would be us human beings. Omnivore’s dilemma is an argument which subtly forces us, humans, to think about the food origins to be on our food plate.
Everybody needs food to survive. But in today's world, many of us are unaware of the source of our food. Where does it come from? How did it reach our dining tables? And most importantly, WHAT SHOULD WE EAT FOR OUR DINNER? Some of these questions are answered in the book. But the book also offers you few questions to ponder upon.
Should we eat fast food like chips, KFC chicken, soft drinks or eat self-gathered cooked food like green vegetables from the farm or the animal you hunt yourself? The former lets you open a stock can in no time, eat/ drink and gossip about politics, movies, family. The latter sharpens your skills, lets you talk about hunt stories and food origins but consumes huge time.
Eat meat? Or Stay vegetarian? The former leads to ecological balance and avoid a species’ population spurt; also it supports the life of animals who can't survive in wild these days. But later seems highly moral and seems more realistic to people who can't entertain the idea of killing.
Use fertilizers like nitrates? Or Stay with old methods of manure? The former damages the ecology but has miraculous agricultural speed. The latter method is slow but very eco-friendly.
Grow more corn? Or stop growing one crop in excess and practice rotation? A crop so seamlessly integrated into USA's daily life and economy that now it poses threats that were unknown to the superpower of the world.
Eat machine killed animals? Or savor the hunted 'game'? The former leads to quicker killing and food production in industries but has about 5 to 20% error of food processing a live animal before getting killed. The later brings us closer to the Earth and our real origins. We create a gratitude for our food and also get to know our food first hand. But it requires courage and skill. Also, it seems unrealistic in this era of population explosion where humans are more than the prey game.
Almost half the dogs in America will receive Christmas present, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of a pig or chicken. An animal as intelligent as like dog easily becomes a Christmas ham. We tolerate this schizophrenia because the life of chicken has moved out from our view. We don't see them daily. This disappearance has opened a space in which there is no reality check on the sentiment or the brutality. Also, the question is not ‘can animals reason’? Or ‘can they talk’? But ‘can they suffer’?
Although vegetarian is a highly evolved human being; he has lost something along the way. Cultural traditions like a Thanksgiving turkey or a delicious chicken at relatives on a festival. These rituals linked us to our history on multiple lines of family and religion. Although we don't require vitamin B-12 from meat, we have been meat eaters for the most of our time on earth. This is reflected in the design of our teeth, structure of our digestion, and the way our mouth still waters at the sight of meat delicacies. Also, the human brain grew in size and complexity due to hunting, and around the hearth where the spoils of the hunt were cooked, human culture first flourished!
If you are in such dilemmas or want to know more about the food on your table and its dynamics, do give this book a try.
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