Monday, June 1, 2009

Word Origins of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Commentary: Post II

Greeting, fans of etymology and Greek and Latin roots word origins as they relate not only to SAT and GRE vocabulary words, but also to the title of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Thank you for reading my article from last week which concerned the Latin root words omnis and vorare as I began discussing The Omnivore's Dilemma and how that book has changed my life vis a vis the way I do things on my farm. As I mentioned in my last post, I have considered providing SAT and GRE English vocabulary words based on the root words of titles of books that have been seminal in my life, thereby not only discussing the word origins of the title, but also what those works have originated in terms of social change for myself which I am hoping may act as consulting information for helping others change their lives in positive ways, and thereby help the world become a greener and healthier place.
The title of Michael Pollan's
The Omnivore's Dilemma contains the English word "omnivore" which is comprised of two Latin roots, that is:

Omnis: all (fully discussed in last week's post on the Latin root word omnis: all)
vorare, voravi, voratum: to eat (vour) (partially discussed for the Latin root word voro, vorare, voravi, voratum: eat)

We already know from last time that some English words that come from voro, vorare include devour, carnivore, herbivore, voracious, and voracity. Let's take a look at a few others:

piscivore: a fish eater: via the Latin root word piscis: fish, word origin of pisciculture (my father, Larry Lee Brunner, former owner of Willow Springs Trout Farm in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, was a pisciculturist, that is, he raised fish, specifically trout, for market), piscatory (piscatory skills concern the art of fishing), the astrological sign Pisces, piscatology, pisciform, and porpoise.

verbivore: a word eater (that is, someone who loves words so much that she just eats them right up, wanting more and more): via the Latin root word verbum: word, origin of many, many English vocabulary words, such as verb (yes, an action word), adverb (etymologically, a "word" that sits "near" another word, grammatically a modifier for a verb or adjective), verbose (wordy), verbiage (the words one uses when writing), proverb, verbatim (word for word), verve, and verbum sapienti satis est (a word to the wise is enough). For many more English words that come from the Latin root word verbum, see, your central place to describe the power of Greek and Latin roots as the primary word origins of English vocabulary.

insectivore: an eater of insects, via the Latin root word seco, secare, secui, sectum: to cut, word origin of insect (an insect has been ‘cut into’ three pieces: the head, thorax, and abdomen), section, dissect, intersection, bisect, secant, etc.

graminivore: an animal that subsists on grass, via the Latin root word gramen, graminis: grass. Check out the importance of ruminants eating grass in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma--sunlight through grass via photosynthesis to meat via the rumen and wool. Fabulous. And most miraculous.

nucivore: an eater of nuts, via the Latin root word nux, nucis, nut, word origin of nuclear, nuciform, dinucleotide, and deoxyribonucleic acid, among many, many others.

vermivore: an eater of worms, via the Latin word root vermis: worm, word origin of vermicelli (etymologically a pasta shaped like "little worms"), vermin, vermiform appendix, vermifuge, and vermilion (from the color attributed to a specific kind of red ‘worm’).

frugivore: an eater of fruit, from the Latin word root frux, frugis, fruit, word origin of frugal (the idea is that ‘thriftiness’ bears great financial ‘fruit’), and many other related words, such as fruit, fructify, and fructose, via the Latin root word fruor, frui, fructus sum: to bear fruit, enjoy.

lactivore: an "eater" (really drinker) of milk, from the Latin root word lac, lactis, milk, word origin of lettuce (a milky white fluid leaks from its leaves when cut), lactate, lactation, galaxy (via the Greek root word gala, galactos: milk), lactoprotein, and latte.

ovivore: an eater of eggs, from the Latin root word "ovum," egg (note that this word could also mean an "eater of sheep," from the Latin root ovis: sheep); word origin of oval, ovoid, ovate, ovariotomy, ovarian, ovo-lacto vegetarianism etc. etc. Also note that the Latin phrase ab ovo usque ad mala (or " from soup to nuts") partially comes from this word.

phytivore: an eater of plants, from the Greek root word phyton--plant, word origin of such English vocabulary words as the SAT word neophyte, and numerous botanical terms, such as saprophyte, phytology, and oophyte.

fungivore: an eater of fungi, usually in reference to insects. I, myself, am an eater of mushrooms, and am most certainly a mycophile, or lover of fungus, especially mushrooms and those oh so wonderful morels.

ossivore: an eater of bones, via the Latin root word os, ossis: bone, progenitor of ossification, osseous, and ossuary.

ranivore: an eater of frogs, via the Latin root word rana--frog. A ranarium is a home for frogs, usually in a zoo, cf. aquarium and terrarium.

Commentary on
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Now that we have divulged some of the fascinating words that are related etymologically to the word "omnivore," let's talk about chickens. Chickens are primarily herbivores (unfortunately most non-organic chicken feed has animal byproducts in it, that is, ground up dead chickens and, even worse, chicken waste) and they love to peck through beautiful green grass and eat all the bugs and ticks therein. As they eat the grass, they ingest plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and beta carotene, which turn the eggs a deep golden color (the pale yellow color of cheap eggs, which are cheap for a reason, are about as nutritious as iceberg lettuce in comparison with, say, organic spinach or, even better, lamb's quarters, one of the world's most nutitious plants), a free source of food from chicken to you. In addition, chickens will consume not only organic waste from your kitchen (potato peelings, carrot peelings, green pepper core, apple cores, etc. etc.), but also weeds that you pick from your garden. Why mow the lawn when you can have your chickens mow it for you, using a simple chicken tractor? Why worry about ticks when chickens will clear your lawn of them? All you need do is provide a safe place where they can roost at night, and they will begin providing you with eggs from recycled food waste and lawn that you won't have to mow. I currently have a flock of 14 of these marvelous egg creating machines, who lay about 11-12 eggs/day. I feed them organic chicken feed in addition to their plant diet which I get delivered from a local co-op. I have a portable electric fence, but since I clip one of their wings (it is a mistake to clip both of them since they are off-kilter with only one wing clipped) I don't have to use the electricity for the fence, which I rotate about once every two weeks to allow the pecked through grass to revivify. There is truly little more satisfying for you or your children to gather eggs at the end of the day and have them for breakfast the next day. To read why you probably don't want to purchase cheap white eggs that sell for around a dollar a dozen, consider chickens trapped in a egg-producing factory, which are much like the cafos I discussed in my last post and which Michael Pollan discusses oh so very well in his eye-opening book on food (and how that term is misused when referring to fast "food"), The Omnivore's Dilemma.

My next post will focus on words related to "dilemma," including commentary on high fructose corn syrup and the dilemma one faces when one is in a grocery store...does one go organic and non-processed and pay more, or does one pay more (but much less in the long run due to fewer medical bills) to really eat?

All of the subsidiary word roots discussed above: piscis: fish; verbum: word; secare: to cut; vermis: worm; frux, frugis: fruit; lac, lactis: milk, etc. can be found at a site devoted not only to the Greek and Latin root words of English vocabulary words, but also to giving word lists, via trees, of SAT and GRE vocabulary words for SAT and GRE prep. Knowing the core of the English language allows one to unlock that language, making the learning of English vocabulary words much easier. At the etymology site you can find the best Greek and Latin roots dictionary available today, Word Empire III: Clarity.  Or, if you're looking to learn vocabulary for the SAT or GRE verbal section, check out, where vocabulary is taught to you via an Adaptive Reinforcement Engine in a fun and engaging way which at the same time enhances your memory.