The ghouls of Halloween have nothing on the terrifying secrets lurking in the shadows of American industrial agriculture.
Most of us know next to nothing about the true origins of the calories we ingest every day, and we’d be horrified if we did know. Even those who seek to improve their own and the planet’s health (or at least ease their consciences) by buying “organic” don’t really comprehend the industrial behemoth often hiding behind that cheery word. Yes, as nature’s omnivores, we can eat nearly anything. But is it really a good idea to feed our children chicken “nuggets” that contain numerous quasi-edible chemicals and come in a box sprayed with a form of toxic butane “to preserve freshness”?
Journalist Michael Pollan reveals many such secrets, and points to better ways to raise our food, in his provocative and fascinating new book The Omnivore’s Dilemma,the subject of our latest Slate audio book club. Critics Stephen Metcalf, Meghan O’Rourke, and Katie Roiphe gathered recently to record their critique of Pollan’s latest investigative work. They discuss both what Pollan gets right and what, as conscientious American food consumers, they think the book lacks.
As with all our book club audio programs, we recommend that you read the book before listening. But this discussion in particular is quite accessible even if you haven’t picked up Omnivore yet.
Click here to play or download the audio program.
For those who’d like to get a head start on our next book club selection, it’s The Emperor’s Children, the latest novel from Claire Messud. As our own Meghan O’Rourke wrote in her recent New York Times review:
Set mostly in New York City at the turn of the 21st century, “The Emperor’s Children” is a masterly comedy of manners—an astute and poignant evocation of hobnobbing glitterati in the months before and immediately following Sept. 11.”The Emperor’s Children” entwines the stories of Danielle Minkoff, Marina Thwaite and Julius Clarke, who met at Brown University and came to New York in the early 1990s, giddy with the parochial entitlement of expensively educated young Americans. Each expected to do something important and each, at 30, is still struggling to make something of him- or herself.
Pick up or borrow a copy of The Emperor’s Children and keep an eye out in about a month for the next Slate audio book club.
Questions? Comments? Write us at Podcasts@slate.com. (E-mailers may be quoted by name unless they request otherwise.)
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