What is “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”? — Middle Schoolers consider the question

The Main Cause of The Omnivore’s Dilemma
By Will D. (Grade 6)

Michael Pollan reveals many causes for the problem of the “omnivore’s dilemma.” In my opinion, the main cause is that the human brain is wired to crave and enjoy sugar. On page 105 of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, the book’s author, mentions, ” A sweet tooth is part of our omnivore’s brain.” Sweeter, sugary foods are rarer in the wild and have lots of good energy which is why our brain instinctively likes sweet foods. A lot of poisons and natural toxins have a bitter taste. So our brain has developed a dislike of bitter foods. Evolution then gave us an instinct that says we should eat as much sugary, energy-high foods, because we never know if those are the last high-energy foods we are going to find for a while. This instinct has developed so much that we will continue to eat sweet foods long after we are not hungry.

As Pollan remarks in the last paragraph of page 105 in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Our instinct doesn’t realize that in modern times there are always sweet foods available to us.” It is not like when humans lived in the wild, when we didn’t know when our next meal was going to come from. This urge for sugary foods made the food market be dominated by sugar and sugar got cheaper and cheaper as there became more and more of it. This is also why low-income homes eat a lot more sugar and fat.
But this sugar craving is not impossible to overcome. We can learn to like bitter foods if we eat them enough. And there are other ways to overcome bitterness. Cooking is the main method, and there is always holding your nose while you eat bitter foods. So this is my opinion about the cause of the “omnivore’s dilemma.”


What Am I Eating?
by Luciana Z. (Grade 5)

There are many causes to the “omnivore’s dilemma”. Some are money-related, convenience-related, or culture-related. But out of all the arguments that Michael Pollan posed in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I think the biggest problem is that we don’t know what we are eating. There are hidden ingredients everywhere, and they’re mostly made from soybeans or processed corn. On page 19 in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan states, “Read the label on any bag of chips, candy bar, or frozen snack. How many ingredients do you recognize? Maltodextrin? Monosodium glutamate? Ascorbic acid? What are those things? What about lecithin and mono-di-, and triglycerides? They are all made from corn.” In other words, corn wears many disguises (Pollan 22). For example, if you look on the wrapper of a packet of peanut butter cracker sandwiches, under the ingredients there is hidden corn under the names of corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, and lecithin. Another example is if you look at the ingredients on the packet of Kirkland apple sauce, you will see ascorbic acid.
We don’t realize it, but according to Michael Pollan on page 22, “We look like corn chips with legs.” In the 1920s, human were growing all kinds of things like plums, grapes, apples, wheat, oats, and apricots. There were also many animals on the farms like horses, sheep, bees, mules, cattle and an assortment of birds. But in 2002, the farms lost their diversity and now we grow almost only corn and soybeans. Tractors and other machines pushed the animals of farms, too (Pollan 37). If there was some ways to restore the old ways of farming, that is exactly what I would do.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
By Lucy K-T (Grade 6)

In Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he introduces the argument that humans, as omnivores, face every day. The actual question is unknown, but I believe that the question is about deciding which foods are okay for us to eat. In this essay, I will be talking about how Pollan organized and developed the specific chapter called The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Pollan organized this chapter in order of relativity and importance. One example is when he tells you about monarch butterflies and koalas: “The koala gets all the nutrients it needs from eucalyptus leaves. The monarch gets everything it needs milkweed leaves. But unlike koalas and monarch butterflies, omnivores not only can eat different foods, we need to eat a variety of foods to stay healthy.” This is interesting that we evolved to be omnivores, and eat lots of different things, rather than eating, say, only plants, because there are so many things that you can eat if you are an omnivore, and that probably helped us to survive, and become the top of the foodchain. As Michael Pollan also emphasises, it’s hard for us to decide which foods are good for us.
As for how Pollan developed it, I believe that he looked for the most related, most current, most helpful little bits and facts. Then he compiled them, built off of them, and created, big solid facts that are used to make a paragraph full of all the information you need to know about your food and where it comes from. He also adds small tidbits of evidence to support his facts, such as when he talked about comparing rats to humans on page 103, “But the rat and the human can live just about anywhere on earth. When their familiar food supplies are in short supply, there’s always another thing they can try.
Michael Pollan has done a very good job with this chapter, sneaking in interesting facts about what people ate before people traded food. Like when he talked about what happens in West Africa: “If you lived in West Africa you ate cassava, yams, beans, and millet. What you ate depended on the season.” When writers do this, you learn a lot more than what you would if the just stuck to the facts and told you only what you need to know, nothing more, nothing less.
We should be glad that we have the opportunity to eat foods from all over the world, not just our native country.