Omnivorous American Religion



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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!

1 comments:

Kara Tyson at: March 15, 2008 at 1:34 PM said...

That is a great book. So is the follow up book, In Defense of Food.

The BBC did an interview with Pollan in Feb. Here is the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/foodprogramme_20080203.shtml

Pollan argues that we used to know how to eat well, but now have lost that knowledge--mainly caused by nutritional scientists and the food industry.

I do not remember them talking about religion per se, but it was interesting.

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