Diet for a New America & Omnivore’s Dilemma



Okay, so I just finished Diet for a New America yesterday, fell into a complete depression – and in some sort of sick rationalization process convinced myself to eat a plateful of buffalo wings to drown my guilt.

The book is good and very informative if not a little outdated. And what’s to be expected anyway? It was written 20 years ago and some things have changed since then; some for the worse and some for the better.

The main things are still the same, though, and I do look at the grocer’s aisle with a cautious eye. I’m not going to badger you, my fair reader, with this information; you know it already and I don’t need to hit you over the head with my colloquial “meat stick.”

Even after reading this, though, I am not necessarily inclined to become a vegetarian, however I am absolutely inclined to not provide my (almost worthless) US dollar to meat farming and agribusiness as much as possible, except in the case to – on occasion – support my local tavern with chicken wings (for which for some reason I cannot muster the energy to simply say “no.” I will try every time, though).

But what information is even more frightening is the Michael Pollen book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which I’m about 1/4 into already and have accrued at least one total breakdown over my table choices. The worst part?

It’s corn. Corn is the real problem. And it’s in EVERYthing.

In Dilemma, Pollan talks about how we “are what we eat” in more ways than one: Corn is the greediest of all plants and it’s no surprise that we find greed and glutton in every aspect of our social landscape. But it’s not the beautiful corn you find at produce markets and even (God forbid) grocery stores that’s the real problem, it’s Industrial Corn. It’s a whole different freaking thing!

There’s a passage in the book about the Native Americans’ philosophy of taking on the characteristics of the food we eat – for instance Native Americans feel (or felt – I’m not sure of the current state of affairs) that if an animal is suffering or treated cruelly at slaughter, they would accept and distribute those ill feelings through their bodies to the rest of the world. If that’s the truth – which it might very well be – that could explain the greedy, overfed, fast-track malnutritioned, hormone-infested “wild”life we call Americanism.

Pollan’s book is a more fun read and a little less browbeating than Robbins’ manifesto, however Robbins’ is researched scholastically and Pollan’s (so far) is a conversational documentation of his personal experience of tracking his food through three kinds of food chains to his table. Both very interesting and easy reads… a must-read for anyone interested in disease prevention and overall health, health-fads and ways to love your food, sincerely and mindfully.

I’m excited to finish Dilemma and move on to the more recent Pollan lecture, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto(and this just in: The Eater’s Dilemma) and also to see the new documentary, King Corn, which visually describes the same process Pollan explores in Dilemma.


  1. keri marion Avatar
    keri marion

    I agree on Industrial Corn and Sugar (specifically corn sweetener) – but you know who is REALLY the devil?

    Monsanto! And they keep growing, growing, growing and profiting from the corn seed. Watch these guys. I saw the CEO on CNN today and was mortified by his grow!grow!grow stance, when the nitrogen from the industrial corn crops is running off into the rivers and polluting the gulf of mexico, causing a wet drought of nitrogen. Monsanto sells the seed, so of course, to line their pocketbooks, they want more seed sold.

    I disagree about the sugar and flour – my complaint is with overly processed foods, i.e. industrial corn. Sugar and flour are perfectly fine to eat in moderation. (you knew I’d rebut this, since I love breads and find whole wheats and grains to be a satisfying, renewalb and pleasurable food resource.)

    My experience has been that items with high fructose corn syrup or other ingredients using industrial corn has made my body lumpy and shitty in general. Only once I switched to whole grains, cereals, fruits & vegetables and very, very little meat /dairy, did my body start to heal.

    Maybe this method doesn’t work for you; I wouldn’t know that, but I do know that once we’re fully conscious of what we’re eating, our bodies thank us tremendously.

    Wheat is in a lot of things, too, as filler and I would always suggest to anyone, regardless of your diet restrictions, to only eat things with ingredients you can pronounce and recognize as coming from the natural world.

    I take it one step further for Justin & myself; If I buy some barcoded item, I do my best to ensure it’s a 1-ingredient item. *I* do the combining in my house. I’ve even started using only dry beans because I don’t like the syrup in which some beans are packed.

    Keep an eye on Monsanto, and watch your senators and the lobbyists.

  2. tfinklang Avatar

    Corn is Satan. And sugar is, too. also wheat.. I guarantee that no matter what you pick up off the shelf, it will have at least one of these ingredients. Wheat is the most surprising.. I found it in Sausage, Chicken dishes, etc.

    High Fructose corn syrup, sugar and flour will be the death of us.

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