The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

"Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.” 


Behind this dry note lies the personality of one of the most interesting writers about matters of food, his past and present, and people’s idiosyncrasies when it comes to eating.


All food and wine enthusiasts should read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” at least once, a lively book that strives to answer one of the fundamental questions about life, the universe and everything else: what are we eating and why? Rather than providing answers – for me anyway – we find causes for reflection and critical thinking methods. Instead of falling back on a straightforward acceptance of “traditions”, confirmed perhaps by elusive recipes, the book focuses on understanding a far more interesting concept: that gastronomy is a history of the people.


The crux of this essay, which never turns into a paternalist or overly confident read like many in this genre, is the consideration that humans are at the top of the food chain, which means they view the world from a privileged position, that of being able to eat everything. This idea makes way for well-analyzed suggestions when speaking about Americans, who are obsessed about health, but some of the most malnourished people on earth, as seen in the shocking statistics on obesity.


Italian readers will enjoy digesting the many documented examples in our country and decoding the messages about the food industry, which makes ready meals increasingly cheaper and flavorful, while also endlessly using words like “natural” and “genuine”. After all, we’re the people that talks about eating while we’re still eating…


Packed with spot-on observations, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, alongside its sibling “Cooked”, which has a different tone of voice, yet offers equal depth, provides a few theories and discoveries that we had on the tip of our tongues, but which escaped us because of their superficial nature. For instance, the saucepan probably still remains the most unsurpassed technological invention in the kitchen.


But the most valuable thing that we learn from this book, penned with lightness and a dash of irony that does not detract from the scrupulousness, not even for a second, is about food prices and the cost of goods in general. If the price is too low, it’s because someone else has paid the difference in some way.