Should a serious agricultural economist read this popular and entertaining book about food? The organizing frame—a "natural history" of four meals ranging from a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries in a moving car to a leisurely dinner of wild mushrooms and wild pork hunted by the author himself—could strike a reader as contrived. The supposed narrative climax, the forest hunting and gathering of the fourth meal, reads like a new-age testament: "For once, I was able to pay the full karmic price of a meal."I read the book in the summer of 2006.
Food journalist Michael Pollan offers the modern efficiency-minded agricultural economist a sensible warning, right up front in the introduction, not to read this book: "Many people today seem perfectly content eating at the end of the industrial food chain, without a thought in the world; this book is probably not for them."
Does the warning just increase your interest? Then, read on. As it turns out, Omnivore's Dilemma provides a rewarding tour of the modern American food system from the perspective of a literate, observant, and curious consumer. For many agricultural economists, the book's most valuable contribution may be its insight into what thoughtful consumers want to know about food....
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
AJAE review of Omnivore's Dilemma
My review of Michael Pollan's influential book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, appeared this month in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Posted 9:49 PM