Book Review of Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

This paper is primarily based on contemplating the widely acclaimed book The Omnivores Dilemma: A natural history of Four Meals in critical terms. One of the primarily important themes of this book written by Michael Pollan is that the way different things are eaten profoundly represents how a human being engages with the natural world. The Omnivore’s Dilemma establishes the relationship that human beings have with food and elaborates that bond by using the example of omnivores and how they are exposed to a paradoxical situation when there a lot of food options to consider. In this way, this book identifies the potential challenges and issues that the contemporary American food industry is exposed to. From the simplicity of vocabulary and the clarity of expression, one can assess that Pollan had intended this book for lay audiences, though it is equally popular among the professionals and experts as it is among common readers.

The way Pollan makes use of smart and appropriate rhetorical devices throughout the book to make his argument appear all the more appealing and engaging to the readers is definitely commendable. One clear example of this is when in the introductory note, Pollan asks the audience to think what a nice dinner should constitute or what would they like to have for dinner. Given the fact that a vast majority of people in the present age happen to be omnivorous, Pollan adopts a very shrewd and mature approach of targeting the large omnivorous grouping his book. The book efficiently mirrors Pollan’s thoughts and arguments thus managing in conveying them satisfactorily to the public which is exactly what a good book should be about. It is identified in the book that the modern food industry is seen relying immensely on increased corn production. In fact, the rate of corn consumption is so markedly high in America that if humans had to become what they ate, 99.99 percent of Americans today would have been corn. Taking the example of corn, Pollan makes an effort to draw the audiences’ attention towards the unusually high consumption of corn all across the West and particularly America. Pollan shows the readers what they are not much aware of by identifying that corn plays an important role in even those foods which apparently seem to have no connection with corn whatsoever. For example, many people who tend to avoid eating corn directly ultimately feed upon such live birds and animals as chickens, fish, and beef and none of these birds and animals are fed a diet which does not happen to be rich in corn. In order to establish how corn dominates the modern food industry on such big levels, it is identified in the book how corn journeys from the corn-producing fields to grocery store shelves where processed food items made of corn are placed before being employed in the modern industrial food chains. Proving with the help of logical arguments and examples which have ground forms hallmark of this critically acclaimed book. A very riveting point unfolded by Pollan and which also makes his analysis all the more interesting is the fact that corn exploits humans just as much as they exploit corn. Pollan’s attempt to refer to corn as an exploiter for humans is a wonderful rhetorical technique for it makes corn look like an enemy which is not something a common man could imagine ordinarily. As humans are seen exploiting corn by making use of it in the most unbelievable ways like projecting it in a variety of foods, sweeteners, and whiskeys so, corn also exploits humans by becoming their weakness and ruling the industry that humans feed upon. This argument made by Pollan is also defended by other critics who identify that fructose consumption accounts for approximately 11% of the calories in the average American diet and has been linked by clinicians to certain diseases including obesity (Melius).

Concluding, it is the aim of Pollan to make people realize how they become victims even without knowing it. Humans are the ones who bear the actual cost through taxes and subsidies and in addition to these costs, we also have to bear the environmental damage produced by growing crops like corn which proves that humans are exploited more and the should be very careful when making food choices. In this way, Pollan is seen projecting logic in his arguments as he does not shoot arrows in thin air for proving many arguments like how all human beings today are consuming corn directly or indirectly.


Work cited:
Melius, Aaron. “High Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Obesity & Liver Disease in
Children.” 29 Oct. 2010. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. .