Omnivorous American Religion


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!


Anonymous 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:

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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