Michael Pollan – the Omnivores Dilemma
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In many ways farming has changed American culture and turned us into industrial eaters. Being an industrial eater means we eat the foods from mass industrial production. The only advantage is its cheaper price, but the taste and nutrition may be changed. We have gone from a hunter/gatherer type of survival to solely relying on the food industries to supply us with the food we need. It is definitely unavoidable in today’s society; with all the new technology we have so many options. You can go out and buy all different kinds of one product where originally we wouldn’t have that kind of choice. Not only is the choice of what to consume a big part of what changed American culture it’s also the way we consume the food being produced by current farming. In America, foods are very diverse and despite the diversity they begin with corn. Pollan gives us the example of the chicken nugget, which he says “piles of corn upon corn: what chicken it contains consists of corn” (because the chickens are corn-fed), as does “the modified corn starch that glues the thing together, the corn flour in the batter that coats it, and the corn oil in which it gets fried. Much less obviously, the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di-, and triglycerides, the attractive golden coloring, and even the citric acid that keeps the nugget ‘fresh’ can all be derived from corn.” My interpretation of this is that through the whole lengthy process of making chicken nuggets, it still begins with corn. This is a big example of how our culture has changed. We are led to believe that we are still eating chicken because the industries label it as chicken and we don’t question how much of the chicken nugget is composed of other products like corn.
This shows how dominant corn has become in American culture. More items than you would believe contain corn in American supermarkets. Even our meat is ultimately corn: chickens, turkeys, pigs, and even cows (which would be much healthier if eating grass) are forced into eating corn due to the economics behind using corn as a cheaper feed alternative. This in turn forces Americans to consume corn whether it’s in the form of corn or any of its derivatives. Corn is also used for many purposes apart from feeding factory-farmed chickens, cattle, and pigs. High-fructose corn syrup, for example, has replaced sugar in many processed food and beverages, and is now, according to Pollan, “the most valuable food product refined from corn, accounting for 530 million bushels every year.” I see this a way of saying that corn is responsible for the profits made which is the most important thing. These industries are profiting off of corn and its thousands of uses so much that health doesn’t appear to be much of a concern.
The way we consume corn and the way corn is produced has made us who we are today. Pollan tells us about the process in which corn goes through to become the food we eat and at the end it is barley recognized as corn anymore. The way we grow corn today influences our diets and lifestyles greatly and it should matter to us but I think a lot of people are either uninformed or don’t really care. I’m personally partial to both, I don’t really think about what I’m eating and I’m not the most informed on eating for a healthy lifestyle. The amount of corn that is being produced is more than any other agricultural