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Monday, April 2, 2012

This Week at SBPL I Discovered ...The Omnivore's Dilemma

While technically an omnivore's dilemma is what most people encounter every day when deciding what to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is the book by Michael Pollan that I refer to here.   The Omnivore's Dilemma is the source for those ghastly statistics and details swirling around McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and the like.  In the past six years since the book was published I have seen it referenced in many a news article, blog, lecture, talk show, etc that has anything to do with nutrition.  So, I was curious.

All of this information, including the 60 Minutes show I saw last night about sugar being a poison, both educates me and overloads me.  I like some of this junk food.  Do I really need to give it up entirely to be healthy? Isn't just a little once in a while OK?  I suppose it is a personal choice, but to be better informed I checked out The Omnivore's Dilemma this week to read it for myself.

 I admit it!  When I opened the book I immediately flipped through to the chapter on McDonald's food.  I was not disappointed.  It's facts include the analysis of the 38 ingredients used to make a Chicken McNugget,  including butane and other bits you wouldn't want to find in your kitchen much less on your plate. At least 13 of the elements are derived from corn. The others I have a hard time pronouncing much less spelling.

The term "omnivore's dilemma" was coined 30 years ago by a research psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.  It really does sum up my daily experience with food.   I am always questioning what I am eating for either calories, nutrition, ingredients, carcinogens, organic, cage-free, etc.  Will it make me fat? Will it give me cancer? Will it help me sidestep heart disease?  These and other questions create the dilemma about food choice and are prompted Pollan to write his book.  He notes that there is a serious problem with any meal that requires a scientist or investigative journalist to determine the ingredients. He has a compelling point here.

 Modern life can be just a little too complicated for me sometimes and it's nice to be able to keep at least some things simple.  Chicken should just be chicken, not 38 ingredients.  I trained myself to like my coffee black last year just because I was tired of worrying about dairy fat, calories, carcinogens, etc. in the myriad of "milk and sugar" choices.

Frequently I just eat what I want to taste.  However, as an adult, the more I know about what produces the tastes I crave the better, like it or not. 

The book is organized into three parts.  The first focuses on the modern or "industrial" diet that consists of convenience foods.  The second part of the book takes a look at the organic diet including the foods from the local farmer as well as the big guys such as Whole Foods.  The third part of the book talks about man's original diet, the hunter-gatherer diet a person can from the source directly.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book this week.  I hope that its facts and figures will help me to make the choices I know deep down I should make.  And, if I still feel like having a fast food dinner once in a while, at least I will know exactly what my choices really are.  

By Rosemary Gohd, PR/Marketing

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