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Fast Food Nation in the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by M. Pollan Essay

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Updated: Jan 5th, 2022


Eating is no longer a practice done just for the sake of it. With many processed food available, it has become a nightmare for most people who say that they are diet conscious. For these people, they tend to scrutinize a product before they buy it but little do they know that the same ingredients they could be avoiding are exactly what they are going to get.

The thesis tries to analyze ideas presented in Michael Pollan’s book “omnivore’s dilemma” and establish the viability of his ideas concerning the arguments he presents (Kuypers, p13). The threads of ideas as presented by Pollan in the first chapter of the book are scrutinized to establish the truth in it.


This book tries to examine how this happens by explaining to the reader how the food chain works and its relationships with almost everything present in the environment.

Though most people try to choose what it is they eat hence the question, what shall eat for dinner? many still don’t understand that it is difficult to accomplish that question because all food is linked in one way or the other therefore one cannot choose what to eat and what not to eat. If you enter a supermarket, for instance, the various products displayed could only be attributed to the two main sources plants and animals. “Except for the salt and a handful of synthetic food additives every edible item in the supermarket is a link in a food chain that begins with a particular plant growing ….”

The author claims that most people feel satisfied eating at the bottom of the food chain without considering any repercussions their habits might upset the chain, such people he says should not have any business with this book. His main targets are people who want to eat in the know. The author’s main objective is to get people to understand that it is important to know what is it you eat because as he puts it …. “You are what you eat….so that is, us as processed corn walking” he further demonstrates that even though most people will not notice corn is the main ingredient of what people eat today. From what animals like chicken, turkeys feed on, ingredients of most foods e.g. milk, eggs, and most drinks so in essence what we eat is just corn.

The author’s main purpose in writing this text could be summarized as a plea to food-conscious people that there is more to what they don’t know about the food they eat. He looks to admonish people against falling into the trap set by big marketing companies and fast food outlets (Nestle, p358). He therefore critically analyses the food chain using corn to demonstrate that indeed all food originates from one source even though they may appear not related in any way.

This text depicts an environment where people have been confused by so many types of food making them unable to decide as to what is good or not good to be eaten. This is precisely the audience the author is trying to address by explaining to them the chains of food and how all of them are related to the other. He says that if you start from one point of the system you will find yourself at the end at the same point you started.

The author mentions that the dilemma faced by people especially the omnivores gave rise to this text. His main agenda was to explain how the food chains worked and their inter-relationships with each other.

The circumstance surrounding this text is pure consumption of healthy food by all people. The author’s point of view seems to be how to make people understand that it is not necessary to process all food as some could be eaten in their natural form. He seems to argue that the more the food is processed and ingredients added, the more the chances of it bringing complications when selecting what to eat and what not to.

This text’s background dates back to the ancient times of hunting and gathering when human beings survived by merely picking what is available in the surroundings which were not necessarily processed and run up to date where almost all foodstuffs are a result of processing and mixing different substances. The author argues that the destruction of the environment by the hunters and gatherers has resulted in the food chain disaster we are currently experiencing.

In this chapter, plant, the author tries to explain how corn though thought to be harmful is the center of all the food chain. He examines the corn plant which is an ancient plant with its origin dating back to a very long time ago and concludes that indeed the plant plays a major role in the food chain. With his arguments, it becomes clear that all revolve around the plant with almost 90% of all products containing corn or an ingredient made of corn….”corn is what feeds the steer that becomes steak. Corn feeds the chicken and the pig, the turkey and the lamb…..the eggs are made of corn…”

The author arranges the text in a manner that takes the reader from one point to the other without much struggle. He starts by examining the importance of corn in the form of an experience in the supermarket and how almost everything displayed contains corn. He goes further and explains the concept of corn walking which he says is due to the consumption of corn in almost all food we consume. The third part explains the rise of maize or Zea Mays, also related to corn, which eventually adapted itself to the climatic conditions of North America and hence became the staple food in the region. It further describes the dependence of the plant by man hence guaranteeing its existence. The text has been written in a manner that flows naturally and is easy to follow.


With the knowledge of the food chain and how it could affect the ecological system, reading this text in a way will change peoples’ attitude towards certain foods and help them understand what goes on in it, therefore, answer the question that is often difficult to answer; what shall we eat for dinner? (Brock & Scott, p320)

Most people do not even know whether they are vegetarians or not, others call themselves “strict” vegetarians but do they really know if indeed they are strict? How will they know if almost all the food comes from a common source that is from plants and animals? These plants and animals largely depend on one another, so is there any form of strictness? Well according to Michael Pollan the answer to this question greatly depends on one’s understanding of the food chain.

Works cited

Brock, Bernard L & Robert Lee Scott. Methods of Rhetoric Criticism: A Twentieth-Century Perspective, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989.

Kuypers, Jim A. Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action. Idaho: Lexington Books, 2009.

Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, California: University of California Press, 2007.

Pollan Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2007.

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