I just cracked open The Omnivore’s Dilemma after letting it decoratively grace my nightstand for about a year. I thought I’d be content just to coast along on the condensed version in the Times (which was still kinda long, truth be told), but now everyone’s reading the even-longer version. Quoting it. Documenting weddings and births inside the cover as if it were the family Bible. Even people who don’t much care about food or even eat food. It just makes me look like a giant slacker.
Anyway, I know a couple of you just started it, too, so maybe we can have a little Internet book club. This would be my first book club experience so I hope it goes well. For those of you who finished it a long time ago and are on to the next one, please don’t spoil the ending.
I’m on page 23 at the moment (we won’t go into how long it took me to get there). So far, Pollan has a very interesting take on the evolutionary biology of plants and animals on the farm. He suggests that it was not we who domesticated these species, but rather they who domesticated us. Let’s read together:
“By evolving certain traits we happen to regard as desirable, these species got themselves noticed by the one mammal in a position not only to spread their genes around the world, but to remake vast swaths of that world in the image of the plants’ preferred habitat.”
We’ve been conned! Plants and animals have tricked us into furthering their own genetic codes. Tricked us with deliciousness. They even got us to foot the bill for a decorator. All this time, I was under the impression that this was purely one-sided exploitation. Now that I realize there’s something in it for both of us, things aren’t sitting quite so well.
Sometimes when I look at sheep, I think to myself that maybe they’re not the smartest creatures alive. Smarter than cows, definitely, but not as smart as pigs. Now I know. They’re just biding their time, chewing their cud like a clique of gum-smacking tweens waiting for their eighteenth birthdays so they can finally tell their parents what they really think of them without getting sent to juvie. What other hidden, sinister agendas they might have is anyone’s guess.
Anyway, I think that we might be the Big Mammal on Campus that Pollan is talking about. So, his point must be this. If we humans want to win, we need to start noticing the hell out of each other right away so we can spray-paint our genes all over every square-inch of this planet before it’s too late. Not to mention replacing all of these useless trees with our preferred habitat: prefab. Bottom line: Have lots of sex RIGHT NOW (preferably with a contractor) and, for god’s sakes, don’t use a condom.
Is that right, Michael Pollan? Did I get the basic gist?