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Summer Edition
Volume 100, Number 1

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The Omnivore's Dilemma

Sail into summer reading (continued)

Where did your dinner come from?

Thought-provoking book asks probing questions about how our dining habits affect us and the environment

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Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma raises a central question: If an omnivore can eat anything it chooses, what should it eat? By tracing the path of four different dinners to the table, he tells the story of where the food comes from and what impact the meal has on the environment.

Pollan’s McDonald’s Value Meal begins in a corn field in Iowa. From the corn comes feed for the cow, oil to cook the fries, and sweetener for the soda. The organic meal bought at a Whole Foods market is better only because of the lack of chemical pesticides and fertilizers; otherwise, it is a meal produced on an industrial scale that takes gallons of fossil fuel to deliver. A small- scale farm in Virginia provides a sustainable organic meal, but would this utopian experience of buying directly from a farmer be available to everyone? Finally, Pollan hunts and gathers a meal which includes a wild pig, mushrooms, and cherries.   

For anyone wondering how to begin to solve the problem of what to eat for dinner, this book will provide a beginning. The answer may involve planting a garden or buying directly from a local farmer. I now only eat at McDonald’s when traveling or if I have a coupon, and the organic stamp of approval raises more questions than it offers assurances. 

Overall, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is interesting and easy to read, and it has the potential to change the way one eats and thinks about food.   

Helena Cicero

—Helena (Yeatts) Cicero  graduated in 1999 as a biology major/environmental science minor and is the education coordinator of the Oakes Museum at Messiah College. Helena has a son, Jack, who is three and a daughter, Maggie, who is one. Her husband, Patrick, works as a legal-aid attorney in Harrisburg, and they live in a multi-generation home in Mechanicsburg with Helena’s parents. Most of her reading is done while waiting for her children to fall asleep, but her favorite place to read is in bed curled up with a cup of tea. 

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