A Young Omnivores Dilemma
by Daniel Lewis
The Young Readers Edition of Michael Pollans bestselling exposé, The Omnivores Dilemma, is a lot like the original. Both books contain most of the same information, but the way in which this information is presented changes the book radically. The main difference is that the writing style (and I wont say it has been dumbed-down) in the Young Readers Edition is a lot more blunt about Pollans ideas. The whole thing only took a few hours to read, whereas the original took a couple of weeks.
Dozens of pictures, graphs, charts, and side notes with cute names like Youre eating what? strategically placed throughout the book comprise the second change, and these make a big difference. It was worth reading the book just for the pictures; they dont overwhelm the book, but they helped me visualize the scenes Pollan describes as he describes them. Theres a picture of Steer 534, the calf Pollan bought and tried to follow to Poky Feeders (spoiler alert: hes not as adorable as I imagined he was) and an advertisement from the Corn Refiners Association, for instance.
To parallel Pollans style, this book begs an unavoidable question: Is it better? Better for what?Being the all important corollary here, I will say I think this book is better for a lot of people, and not just young readers. If youre between the ages of 10 and 15, youll definitely find the book easy to digest (pardon the pun), but its also a great choice for more mature readers who dont have a lot of extra time or just want a fast read..
However, if youre able to read and enjoy The Omnivores Dilemma, its Young Readers Edition quickly begins to feel like fast food. It doesnt have the philosophical depth, subtleties in language, and vivid descriptions of the adult version, which will leave the reader burning to get to the nearest farmers market. It has the macronutrients but not the flavonoids and anti-oxidants. Nevertheless, if you want to teach your middle school aged child much more about where her food comes from, this is the best way to do it. If she doesnt like it, theres always Food Inc.
A lover of food among other things, Daniel Lewis spends much of his free time cooking and reading cookbooks or articles about agriculture. He is 17, and lives in Saratoga, CA.
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