The Trouble with Omnivores Explained in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma

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What is an omnivore? An omnivore is a creature that consumes both plants and animals for nutrition. In Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma he explains just as the title suggests, the omnivore’s dilemma. In it he describes how omnivores, such as ourselves, came to eat the way we do now. After he discusses the basics of that, he proceeds to talk about Americans and how they eat. Pollan divides his writing into four main areas: introducing what the omnivore’s dilemma is, explaining how we decide what to eat, introducing our anxieties towards eating, and the problem with how Americans decide what to eat. Pollan calls on the expertise of Paul Rozin and other specialists to help back up his claims.
Omnivores are very interesting creatures. We are able to digest most plants and animals and therefore have a wide range of food available to us. However, when faced with new potential foods we are “torn between two conflicting emotions” (Pollan 288). These two emotions are neophilia and neophobia. Pollan defines neophilia as “a risky but necessary openness to new tastes” (288) and neophobia as “a sensible fear of ingesting anything new” (288). These two emotions are easily seen in humans, especially myself. Whenever I am introduced to a new food I immediately feel both of these. I am very tempted to try the new food since it might taste good, but on the other hand it may not taste good and may even give me a stomach-ache or food poisoning. The final decision when trying a new food usually depends on how it looks. In Rozin’s studies, he observed these two emotions in rats. The rats would nibble on the new food and wait to see if it affected them negatively, learning not to eat it if it hurt them. Pollan believed that Rozi...

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...quote by Daniel Bell that the “tendency of capitalism, in its single-minded pursuit of profit, to erode the various cultural underpinnings that steady a society but often impede the march of commercialization” (302). He means that if it will stop the flow of money, the capitalist government will do all it takes to remove it. If we are to fix the way Americans eat and think, we need to move back towards pleasurable eating and diets not ruled by capitalistic attempts to make more money. The only way this will ever be accomplished is if the government worries less about money and more about the health of the people. That will control the markets and what is sold, but the problem will still continue unless people change the way they eat as well. If we follow the French example of longer dinners and smaller entrees, we may be able to solve this omnivore’s dilemma.

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