"The Omnivore's Dilemma," Vocabulary from Part 4-Afterword

"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. civilized
    having a high state of culture and social development
    And you’ll be surprised to learn that hunter-gatherers ate better, grew taller, lived longer, and were healthier than “ civilized” people.
  2. passive
    lacking in energy or will
    We don’t want to be passive consumers, sitting at the end of a food chain and eating what we are served.
  3. conscious
    having awareness of surroundings and sensations and thoughts
    My meal would be an extreme experiment in being an active and conscious eater.
  4. resolve
    reach a decision
    We don’t want to think about the living animals that become our food. But I had resolved to think about it.
  5. reluctant
    not eager
    So on a September Sunday, after dining on a delicious barbecued tenderloin of pork, I became a reluctant—and, I hoped, temporary—vegetarian.
  6. stimulate
    cause to occur rapidly
    When their egg production begins to drop, the hens will be “force-molted”—starved of food, water, and light for several days in order to stimulate a final spurt of egg laying before their life’s work is done.
  7. morality
    the quality of being in accord with right or good conduct
    Big business is often blind, except to profit. Morality just doesn’t enter into a spreadsheet.
  8. fend
    try to manage without help
    The animals grew tame and lost their ability to fend for themselves in the wild.
  9. predator
    any animal that lives by preying on other animals
    Some people speak of animal liberation, but what would liberation mean to the millions of cows and chickens on our farms? It would mean a swift and unpleasant death, starvation, or attack by predators.
  10. brutality
    the trait of extreme cruelty
    The brutality of the industrial food system in America is something that is pretty recent.
  11. hesitate
    pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness
    When I asked Angelo why he hunted wild pig he didn’t hesitate. He just kissed the tips of his fingers and said, “Because it is the most delicious meat.
  12. carcass
    the dead body of an animal
    Less than an hour later I was hugging the pig’s carcass as it hung from the limb of an oak.
  13. promptly
    at once (usually modifies an undesirable occurrence)
    But after a brief run of luck I promptly went blind again—and failed to find another mushroom all day.
  14. essential
    of the greatest importance
    Fungi are an essential part of the life cycle on earth. They are the masters of decay and recycling.
  15. edible
    suitable for use as food
    Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreafus) can digest a pile of petrochemical sludge in a fortnight, transforming the toxic waste into edible protein.
  16. strew
    spread by scattering
    After an endless trek through trash- strewn wetlands, we found the salt ponds: rectangular fields of shallow water.
  17. pang
    a sudden sharp feeling
    Instead it was a blizzard of rushed work, missing ingredients, unscheduled spills and dropped pots, unscheduled trips to the store, unscheduled pangs of doubt, and second-guessing.
  18. forage
    collect or look around for, as food
    I went around the table and spoke of each person’s contribution to my foraging education and to this meal.
  19. reminiscent
    serving to bring to mind
    The sauce for the leg was almost joltingly rich and earthy, powerfully reminiscent of the forest.
  20. precise
    sharply exact or accurate or delimited
    And I knew the true cost of this food, the precise amount of time and work it had taken to get it and prepare it.
  21. nourish
    provide with sustenance
    It is not realistic to call something a food system when it replaces food with an industrial product that does not nourish us—and in fact makes us sick.
  22. conscience
    motivation deriving from ethical or moral principles
    It was possible, they discovered, to eat meat with a clear conscience.
  23. ignorance
    the lack of knowledge or education
    But whichever conclusion readers come to, they are more thoughtful about their choices—they act now out of knowledge rather than ignorance, and that’s the most important thing.
  24. diminish
    decrease in size, extent, or range
    I’ve never liked to think of myself as a mere “consumer”—the word sounds like someone who uses things up and diminishes the world, and very often that’s exactly what a consumer does.
  25. mandatory
    required by rule
    Physical education is already a mandatory part of your school day, after all, so why not eating education?

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