David Gutowski runs the popular music and culture blog Largehearted Boy.
As I get ready to move, I have been packing away the books I have read this year. A bit obsessive about my reading, I keep separate shelves for my blog’s 52 Books, 52 Weeks and Book Notes projects, along with a shelf for everything else I have squeezed into the year. Gathering my yearly input has given me a rare insight into how amazing this year’s books have been for me, especially Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
I keep a “to read” list on my laptop, right now it features over a hundred books, ordered by interest. The Omnivore’s Dilemma had been on the list for over a year, ever since my friends started recommending the book to me, always with the wide eyes of recently converted zealots. My wife jokes that my personal mantra is, “I’m skeptical,” but with so many people whose opinions I respect behind the book, I decided to give it a chance (and slotted it between the literary fiction and graphic novels that make up the majority of my yearly reading).
The Omnivore’s Dilemma is the rare book which changed the way I live. Michael Pollan gave me new insight into the true cost of the food we eat. Last year I read Jay Weinstein’s The Ethical Gourmet and reconsidered my diet with regard to ecological concerns, but Pollan takes the argument to another plane altogether. As he follows the food chain of industrial, organic, and even foraged foods, he delves into the government’s involvement in our diets and the perils facing family farms with graceful prose and strong arguments. Like a good novel, I read the book in one sitting, transfixed by the personal story Michael Pollan shared as well as the national and global ramifications of our diet.