"The Omnivore's Dilemma," Vocabulary from Part 3

"The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan has quickly become a classic in food-obsessed circles for its emphasis on knowing where your good comes from, eating well, and eating locally.

Learn these word lists for this work of nonfiction: Introduction-Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4-Afterword

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. thriving
    very lively and profitable
    This farm was living and thriving today just 150 miles from Washington, D.C.
  2. petroleum
    a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons
    Salatin’s hat had no logo and it was made of grass, not plastic. This was fitting because grass, not petroleum, is the foundation of his farm’s success.
  3. complicated
    difficult to analyze or understand
    The animals and crops seem to move in circles like some sort of complicated dance.
  4. parasite
    an animal or plant that lives in or on a host
    Eating the grubs and larvae cuts down on bugs and parasites—in this case, tiny organisms that live on or in the cow—that would bother the cattle.
  5. fertile
    marked by great fruitfulness
    Its soil will be deeper, more fertile, and even springier underfoot (this thanks to the increased earthworm traffic).
  6. herbivore
    any animal that feeds chiefly on grass and other plants
    When we looked at beef ranching, we learned how grasses and herbivores formed a partnership over millions of years of evolution.
  7. saunter
    walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
    After a moment of hesitation, the cows began to move, first singly, then two by two, and then all eighty of them sauntered into the new pasture, brushing past us as they looked around for their favorite grasses.
  8. carbohydrate
    an essential component of living cells and source of energy
    For this reason, an acre of mixed grasses can actually produce more carbohydrate and protein in a year than an acre of field corn.
  9. drought
    a shortage of rainfall
    And a field of mixed grasses with a deep root system is much more likely to survive dry spells and droughts.
  10. tenant
    someone who pays rent to use property owned by someone else
    “The farm had been abused by tenant farmers for 150 years,” Joel said.
  11. rickety
    inclined to shake as from weakness or defect
    Joel climbed onto the tractor, threw it into gear, and slowly towed the rickety henhouse fifty yards or so.
  12. exquisite
    intense or sharp
    Why does Joel want fermented corn in his manure pile? Because there’s nothing a pig enjoys more than getting tipsy on corn, and there’s nothing a pig is better equipped to do than root it out with his powerful snout and exquisite sense of smell.
  13. scald
    burn with a hot liquid or steam
    That’s where, six times a month, several hundred chickens are killed, scalded, plucked, and gutted.
  14. extension
    amount or degree or range to which something runs
    “The way I produce a chicken is an extension of my worldview,” he’d told me the first time we’d talked.
  15. humane
    marked by concern with the alleviation of suffering
    “Slaughter is dehumanizing work if you have to do it every day. Processing but a few days a month means we can actually think about what we’re doing,” he continued, “and be as careful and humane as possible.”
  16. ensure
    make certain of
    They don’t need USDA rules to ensure that the meat they’re buying has been humanely and cleanly processed.
  17. bombard
    address continuously, as if with a barrage
    Agribusiness has bombarded us with the message that all pork is pork, all chicken is chicken.
  18. principle
    rule of personal conduct
    So avoiding the industrial food chain isn’t just a matter of principle. It’s also good business.
  19. modified
    changed in form or character
    And there are people in many countries who are trying to stop the spread of genetically modified food.
  20. welfare
    a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous
    "Slow food is good, clean and fair food, we believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work."
  21. processed
    prepared or converted from a natural state
    And once you give up processed foods, you have to learn to cook, a skill that is disappearing from many American homes.
  22. queasy
    feeling nausea
    Which, truth to tell, left me feeling a little queasy. Was I going to be able to enjoy chicken so soon after working in the processing shed and gut-composting pile?
  23. brine
    a strong solution of salt and water used for pickling
    To be honest, there was another reason I chose the brining and grilling method. Once the chickens were cut into pieces, they wouldn’t look quite so much like the birds I had helped kill and gut on the farm.
  24. compliment
    a remark expressing praise and admiration
    This may not sound like much of a compliment, but to me the chicken smelled and tasted exactly like chicken.
  25. confection
    a food rich in sugar
    But it tasted wonderful, everyone agreed, and as I rolled the rich yet weightless confection on my tongue, I closed my eyes and suddenly there they were: Joel’s hens, marching down the gangplank from out of their Eggmobile, fanning out across the early-morning pasture, there in the grass where this magical bite began.

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