Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat
(Chapter 3: From Farm to Factory)
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan talks about the differences between traditional farming and industrial farming. Pollan starts, in the exemplar text, talking about corn
and how it is a crop that has “[taken] over our food chain and [pushed] out other species”. Pollan is talking about factory farms that create very few products. Industrial farms that use chemicals instead of natural resources to create a gross harvest are what this chapter, Chapter 3: From Farm to Factory, is all about. Pollan believes that industrial farming is unethical because it uses more energy than it creates, this way of farming more quickly depletes our finite source of fossil fuels, and these farms use chemicals that have been used in war, as pesticides and fertilizers.
Within chapter three, Pollan gives an analogy of how much energy we use as calories. He states, “…it takes about ten calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy.” Industrial farming may not yield as many crops, but it does not run on a dissipating energy resource. It does not harm the ecosystem either, but instead it adds to the ecosystem, helping it thrive. The plants used in the soil not only take nutrients from the ground, but they give nutrients back, balancing the total about of nutrients needed and created within this farming process with crop rotation.
Industrial farming uses many more fossil fuels to power it. Because chemical pesticides and fertilizers are keeping plants alive longer and helping plants produce more yielding harvests, workers alone cannot collect all of the produce. Instead the workers have the help of equipment that all run on fossil fuels. As well as it may be saving money, at the same time it is using “around seventy-five gallons of oil per acre of corn” says Pollan. Although he has also said that “some estimates are much higher.”