<b>Michael Pollan rates America's dinner menu</b> Delving deep into the murky underwaters of the modern agricultural complex, <b>The Omnivore's Dilemma</b> is not the kind of book you'll want to read with a fast-food burger and fries in your hand. As the book traces the provenance of four meals industrial, industrial organic, pastoral organic and hunted/gathered you might not even feel comfortable with takeout from the local health food store.

How did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner menu? asks best-selling author Michael Pollan in an introduction entitled, Our National Eating Disorder. Faced with a constant barrage of information and an increasingly large distance between the consumers and producers of food, most of us are able to choke down dinner only by willfully forgetting the latest headlines about cancer-causing chemicals or animal conditions at many super-sized farms.

In Pollan's personal quest to shake loose that fog of forgetfulness and lack of real information, he does everything from buying his own cow to helping with the open-air slaughter of pasture-raised chickens to hunting morels in Northern California. This is not a man who's afraid of getting his hands dirty in the quest for better understanding. Along with wonderfully descriptive writing and truly engaging stories and characters, there is a full helping of serious information on the way modern food is produced. This can, occasionally, be a little slow going, but that does not mean it's not worth the effort.

Pollan doesn't suggest that we hunt and gather our own food, the basis of his own (rather fancy) final, perfect meal, but he believes that, if we could see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our industrial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat. Once we've read <b>The Omnivore's Dilemma</b>, we've bitten the apple of knowledge and we can only hope it was grown on the right kind of farm. <i>Trained chef Megan Brenn-White is the author of</i> Bake Me a Cake <i>(HarperCollins).</i>

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