I experience a Pavlovian response when I read the name B. R. Myers: the hackles rise on the back of my neck and my teeth bare in a lupine snarl. Since A Reader's Manifesto I've taken issue with the man's tone and his eagerness to insinuate that those who don't share his contempt of contemporary literature are not as intelligent as those who do. Consequently, I couldn't make it through the first paragraph of his review of The Omnivore's Dilemma without wanting to shake and rip his assumptions: The pleasures of the oral cavity (though we must say "palate" instead) are now widely regarded as more important, more intrinsically moral, and a more vital part of civilized tradition than any other pleasures. People who think nothing of saying "I'm not much of a reader" will grow shamefaced when admitting an ignorance of wine or haute cuisine.
Granted, all the people I know are the wrong sort, but still, they qualify as people, and they are nothing like those Myers claims to know so much about. I will not go so far as to say Myers has constructed them totally out of straw, but, outside my daughter's host family in Germany, anyone I know who'd tout his non-reader creds doesn't give a damn about wine or haute cuisine and would be surprised to learn that eating fancy is regarded as being more intrinsically moral than eating potluck in the church basement following a Sunday sermon.
So I had to turn away from the rest of Myers' review, let his obvious concern for animals mellow me up a bit for a couple of days before I could finish it.
And you know what? No matter how much the already-vegetarians squee over Myers' moral high horsemanship, I can't see what he hoped to accomplish by blasting Pollan for hunting or for eating meat in a review so high falutin' that he'd take his own words to task if he'd encountered them in an Annie Proulx story. The gourmets are certainly going to discount Myers as a crank instead of mending their evil eatin' ways and the common man meat-eater might remember that despite all the Christianity/moral values good, political correctness/secularism bad hoohah in Myers' piece, Jesus fed the multitudes on fish, not veggies.
Peter Singer himself can write about the benefits of eating locally grown food without chastising those who eat meat; B.R. Myers cannot see that Pollan's book may lead more people to reassess their eating habits and reduce their meat consumption than Myers' moraler-than-thou stance ever will.
Remember when you told the critics to tone down their hyperbole, Myers? You might want to listen to yourself sometime.