BY JOHN TURNER
I've been reading a book with only a very tangential connection to American Religious History: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, whom the NYT describes as "a professor of journalism at Berkeley, and therefore by definition a liberal foodie intellectual."
This is the tangential connection: Pollan introduces us to Joel Salatin, a Bob Jones University graduate and alternative farmer in Virginia who describes himself as a "Christian-conservative-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic farmer." Salatin has opted out of "industrial agriculture" and instead practices intensive-grazing grass management, enabling him to grow chickens that taste like Chicken. Salatin turns off some liberal reporters with a Jesus fish on his door, but Pollan admirably perseveres. He even survives a "strikingly non-generic version of grace, [in which Salatin] offer[ed] a fairly detailed summary of the day's doings to a lord who ... was present and keenly interested."
The Omnivore's Dilemma made me feel intensely guilty about eating blueberries from Chile and suspicious that everything I eat might really be corn.
Pollan reaches this conclusion about American styles of eating:
Consuming these neo-pseudo-foods alone in our cars, we have become a nation of antinomian eaters, each of us struggling to work out our dietary salvation on our own.
The American diet sounds strikingly like American religion. We eat like we worship!