Minutiae, pages 274-319

With so much to write this week, I haven’t made it through too much of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but there are still a few little errors worth pointing out:

  • Pollan writes, “These included no animal protein, however, and I had decided that this meal should feature representatives of all three edible kingdoms: animal, vegetable, and fungi” (277). It’s not exactly clear what sense of the word “kingdom” Pollan is using here, but there are edible protists (such as the seaweed nori) and bacteria (i.e. yogurt cultures).
  • Pollan writes, “Our metabolism requires specific chemical compounds that, in nature, can be gotten only from plants (like vitamin C) and others that can be gotten only from animals (like vitamin B-12)” (289). Vitamin B12 consumed by humans is always produced by bacteria, though the only reliable food sources (aside from fortified foods) are animals having bacteria living symbiotically in their gut.
  • According to Pollan,

    Indeed, there is probably not a nutrient source on earth that is not eaten by some human somewhere — bugs, worms, dirt, fungi, lichens, seaweed, rotten fish; the roots, shoots, stems, bark, buds, flowers, seeds, and fruits of plants; every imaginable part of every imaginable animal, not to mention haggis, granola, and Chicken McNuggets. (290)

    I have to think he’s exaggerating. There are animals that are poisonous to the touch and organisms that live in places inaccessible to humans. I doubt anybody’s using these for food, but I’m willing to be proven wrong.

  • Pollan refers to “some novel mycoprotein like ‘quorn'” (295). The product in question is a registered trademark, and should be capitalized.
  • In my edition, Pollan refers to “applecart-topping nutritional swings” (299) when he means “applecart-toppling nutritional swings”, but that has been fixed in a more recent printing.
  • Pollan writes, “For although humans no longer need meat in order to survive (now that we can get our B-12 from fermented foods or supplements)” (315). Fermented foods are not a reliable source of vitamin B12.

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