Regalo, Ejercicios de Diseño Industrial. Universidad Antonio de Nebrija
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Regalo, Ejercicios de Diseño Industrial. Universidad Antonio de Nebrija

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Asignatura: Elasticidad y resistencia de materiales, Profesor: rosa rosa, Carrera: Ingeniería en Diseño Industrial y Desarrollo del Producto, Universidad: Nebrija
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Omnivores Dilemma

A N A T U R A L H I S T O R Y of F O U R M E A L S

MICHAEL POLLAN

T H E B O T A N Y O F D E S I R E

,£* <*> ^

U.S. $26.95 Canada $38.00

WHAT SHOULD WE HAVE FOR DINNER?

For omnivores like ourselves, this simple question has always posed a dilemma: When you can eat ji about anything nature (or the supermarket) has to offer, deciding what you should tax will inevitably stir

ty, especially when some of the foods on offer might shorten your life. Today, buffeted by one food fad after another, America is suffering from what can only be described as a national eating disorder. The omnivore's dilemma has returned with a vengeance, as the cornucopia of the modern American supermarket ami fast-food outlet confronts us with a bewilder- ing and treacherous food landscape. What's at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our chil- dren's health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth.

The Omnivore's Dilemma is a groundbreaking book in which one of America's most fascinating, original, and elegant writers turns his own omnivorous mind to the seemingly straightforward question of what we should have for dinner. The question has confronted us since man discovered fire, but, according to Michael Pollan, the bestselling author of The Botany of Desire, how we answer it today, at the dawn of the twenty- first century, may well determine our very survival as a species. Should we eat a fast-food hamburger? Some- thing organic? Or perhaps something we hunt, gather, or grow ourselves?

To find out, Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating. His absorbing narrative takes us from Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restauran

mufti on back flap) 0406

THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

ALSO BY MICHAEL POLLAN

Second Nature

A Place of My Own

The Botany of Desire

THE

OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA A NATURAL HISTORY

OF FOUR MEALS

MICHAEL POLLAN

THE PENGUIN PRESS

NEW YORK

2006

THE PENGUIN PRESS Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700.Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) * Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand,

London WC2R 0RL, England •• Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2,

Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) * Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124 , Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) > Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India * Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads,

Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,

Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in 2006 by The Penguin Press a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Copyright © Michael Pollan, 2006 All rights reserved

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA

Pollan, Michael. The omnivore 's dilemma : a natural history of four meals / Michael Pollan.

p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 1-59420-082-3 1. GT2850 .P65 2006. 2. Food habits. 3. Food preferences. I.Title.

GT2850.P65 2006 394.1'2—dc22 2005056557

Printed in the United States of America

9 10

DESIGNED BY MARYSARAH QUINN

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrightable materials. Your support of the author's rights is appreciated.

FOR JUDITH AND ISAAC

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION Our National Eating Disorder 1

I INDUSTRIALCORN ONE The Plant: Corn's Conquest 15

TWO The Farm 3 2

THREE The Elevator 57

FOUR The Feedlot: Making Meat 65

FIVE The Processing Plant: Making Complex Foods 85

six The Consumer: A Republic of Fat 100

SEVEN The Meal: Fast Food 109

II PASTORALGRASS EIGHT All Flesh Is Grass 123

NINE Big Organic 134

TEN Grass: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Pasture 185

ELEVEN The Animals: Practicing Complexity 208

TWELVE Slaughter: In a Glass Abattoir 226

THIRTEEN The Market: "Greetings from the Non-Barcode People" 239

FOURTEEN The Meal: Grass-Fed 262

III PERSONALTHE FOREST FIFTEEN The Forager 277

SIXTEEN The Omnivore's Dilemma 287

SEVENTEEN The Ethics of Eating Animals 304

EIGHTEEN Hunting : The Meat 334

NINETEEN Gathering : The Fungi 364

TWENTY The Perfect Meal 391

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 4 1 3

SOURCES 4 1 7

INDEX 4 3 7

THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

INTRODUCTION

OUR NATIONAL EATING DISORDER

What should we have for dinner?

This book is a long and fairly involved answer to this seemingly

simple question. Along the way, it also tries to figure out how such a

simple question could ever have gotten so complicated. As a culture we

seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom we may

once have possessed about eating has been replaced by confusion and

anxiety Somehow this most elemental of activities—figuring out what

to eat—has come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How

did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell

us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the din-

ner menu?

For me the absurdity of the situation became inescapable in the fall

of 2002, when one of the most ancient and venerable staples of human

life abruptly disappeared from the American dinner table. I'm talking of

course about bread. Virtually overnight, Americans changed the way

they eat. A collective spasm of what can only be described as carbopho-

2 * THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

bia seized the country, supplanting an era of national lipophobia dating

to the Carter administration.That was when, in 1977, a Senate commit-

tee had issued a set of "dietary goals" warning beef-loving Americans

to lay off the red meat. And so we dutifully had done, until now.

What set off the sea change? It appears to have been a perfect media

storm of diet books, scientific studies, and one timely magazine article.

The new diet books, many of them inspired by the formerly discredited

Dr. Robert C. Atkins, brought Americans the welcome news that they

could eat more meat and lose weight just so long as they laid off the

bread and pasta. These high-protein, low-carb diets found support in a

handful of new epidemiological studies suggesting that the nutritional

orthodoxy that had held sway in America since the 1970s might be

wrong. It was not, as official opinion claimed, fat that made us fat, but

the carbohydrates we'd been eating precisely in order to stay slim. So

conditions were ripe for a swing of the dietary pendulum when, in the

summer of 2002, the New York Times Magazine published a cover story on

the new research entitled "What if Fat Doesn't Make You Fat?" Within

months, supermarket shelves were restocked and restaurant menus

rewritten to reflect the new nutritional wisdom. The blamelessness of

steak restored, two of the most wholesome and uncontroversial foods

known to man—bread and pasta—acquired a moral stain that

promptly bankrupted dozens of bakeries and noodle firms and ruined

an untold number of perfectly good meals.

So violent a change in a culture's eating habits is surely the sign of

a national eating disorder. Certainly it would never have happened in a

culture in possession of deeply rooted traditions surrounding food and

eating. But then, such a culture would not feel the need for its most au-

gust legislative body to ever deliberate the nation's "dietary goals"—or,

for that matter, to wage political battle every few years over the precise

design of an official government graphic called the "food pyramid." A

country with a stable culture of food would not shell out millions for

the quackery (or common sense) of a new diet book every January. It

would not be susceptible to the pendulum swings of food scares or

fads, to the apotheosis every few years of one newly discovered nutri-

O U R N A T I O N A L E A T I N G D I S O R D E R * 3

ent and the demonization of another. It would not be apt to confuse

protein bars and food supplements with meals or breakfast cereals with

medicines. It probably would not eat a fifth of its meals in cars or feed

fully a third of its children at a fast-food outlet every day. And it surely

would not be nearly so fat.

Nor would such a culture be shocked to discover that there are

other countries, such as Italy and France, that decide their dinner ques-

tions on the basis of such quaint and unscientific criteria as pleasure

and tradition, eat all manner of "unhealthy" foods, and, lo and behold,

wind up actually healthier and happier in their eating than we are. We

show our surprise at this by speaking of something called the "French

paradox," for how could a people who eat such demonstrably toxic

substances as foie gras and triple crème cheese actually be slimmer and

healthier than we are? Yet I wonder if it doesn't make more sense to

speak in terms of an American paradox—that is, a notably unhealthy

people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily

To ONE DEGREE or another, the question of what to have for dinner as-

sails every omnivore, and always has. When you can eat just about any-

thing nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir

anxiety, especially when some of the potential foods on offer are liable

to sicken or kill you. This is the omnivore 's dilemma, noted long ago by

writers like Rousseau and Brillat-Savarin and first given that name thirty

years ago by a University of Pennsylvania research psychologist named

Paul Rozin. I've borrowed his phrase for the title of this book because

the omnivore's dilemma turns out to be a particularly sharp tool for

understanding our present predicaments surrounding food.

In a 1976 paper called "The Selection of Foods by Rats, Humans,

and Other Animals" Rozin contrasted the omnivore's existential situa-

tion with that of the specialized eater, for whom the dinner question

could not be simpler. The koala bear doesn't worry about what to eat:

If it looks and smells and tastes like a eucalyptus leaf, it must be dinner.

The koala's culinary preferences are hardwired in its genes. But for

4 * THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

omnivores like us (and the rat) a vast amount of brain space and time

must be devoted to figuring out which of all the many potential dishes

nature lays on are safe to eat. We rely on our prodigious powers of

recognition and memory to guide us away from poisons (Isn't that the

mushroom that made me sick last week?) and toward nutritious plants (The red

berries are the juicier, sweeter ones). Our taste buds help too, predisposing us

toward sweetness, which signals carbohydrate energy in nature, and

away from bitterness, which is how many of the toxic alkaloids produced

by plants taste. Our inborn sense of disgust keeps us from ingesting

things that might infect us, such as rotten meat. Many anthropologists

believe that the reason we evolved such big and intricate brains was

precisely to help us deal with the omnivore's dilemma.

Being a generalist is of course a great boon as well as a challenge; it

is what allows humans to successfully inhabit virtually every terrestrial

environment on the planet. Omnivory offers the pleasures of variety,

too. But the surfeit of choice brings with it a lot of stress and leads to a

kind of Manichaean view of food, a division of nature into The Good

Things to Eat, and The Bad.

The rat must make this all-important distinction more or less on its

own, each individual figuring out for itself—and then remembering—

which things will nourish and which will poison. The human omni-

vore has, in addition to his senses and memory, the incalculable

advantage of a culture, which stores the experience and accumulated

wisdom of countless human tasters before us. I don't need to experi-

ment with the mushroom now called, rather helpfully, the "death cap,"

and it is common knowledge that that first intrepid lobster eater was on

to something very good. Our culture codifies the rules of wise eating in

an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners, and culinary

traditions that keep us from having to reenact the omnivore 's dilemma

at every meal.

One way to think about America's national eating disorder is as the re-

turn, with an almost atavistic vengeance, of the omnivore 's dilemma. The

cornucopia of the American supermarket has thrown us back on a bewil-

dering food landscape where we once again have to worry that some of

O U R N A T I O N A L E A T I N G D I S O R D E R * 5

those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. (Perhaps not as quickly as a

poisonous mushroom, but just as surely) Certainly the extraordinary

abundance of food in America complicates the whole problem of choice.

At the same time, many of the tools with which people historically man-

aged the omnivore s dilemma have lost their sharpness here—or simply

failed. As a relatively new nation drawn from many different immigrant

populations, each with its own culture of food, Americans have never had

a single, strong, stable culinary tradition to guide us.

The lack of a steadying culture of food leaves us especially vulnera-

ble to the blandishments of the food scientist and the marketer, for

whom the omnivore 's dilemma is not so much a dilemma as an oppor-

tunity. It is very much in the interest of the food industry to exacerbate

our anxieties about what to eat, the better to then assuage them with

new products. Our bewilderment in the supermarket is no accident; the

return of the omnivore 's dilemma has deep roots in the modern food

industry, roots that, I found, reach all the way back to fields of corn

growing in places like Iowa.

And so we find ourselves where we do, confronting in the super-

market or at the dinner table the dilemmas of omnivorousness, some of

them ancient and others never before imagined. The organic apple or the

conventional? And if the organic, the local one or the imported? The wild

fish or the farmed?The transfats or the butter or the "not butter"? Shall I

be a carnivore or a vegetarian? And if a vegetarian, a lacto-vegetarian or a

vegan? Like the hunter-gatherer picking a novel mushroom off the for-

est floor and consulting his sense memory to determine its edibility, we

pick up the package in the supermarket and, no longer so confident of

our senses, scrutinize the label, scratching our heads over the meaning

of phrases like "heart healthy," "no transfats," "cage-free," or "range-fed."

What is "natural grill flavor" orTBHQ or xanthan gum? What is all this

stuff, anyway, and where in the world did it come from?

MY WAGER in writing The Omnivores Dilemma was that the best way to an-

swer the questions we face about what to eat was to go back to the very

6 * THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

beginning, to follow the food chains that sustain us, all the way from

the earth to the plate—to a small number of actual meals. I wanted to

look at the getting and eating of food at its most fundamental, which is

to say, as a transaction between species in nature, eaters and eaten. ("The

whole of nature," wrote the English author William Ralph Inge, "is a con-

jugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.") What I try to do in

this book is approach the dinner question as a naturalist might, using the

long lenses of ecology and anthropology, as well as the shorter, more in-

timate lens of personal experience.

My premise is that like every other creature on earth, humans take

part in a food chain, and our place in that food chain, or web, deter-

mines to a considerable extent what kind of creature we are. The fact of

our omnivorousness has done much to shape our nature, both body (we

possess the omnicompetent teeth and jaws of the omnivore, equally well

suited to tearing meat and grinding seeds) and soul. Our prodigious

powers of observation and memory, as well as our curious and experi-

mental stance toward the natural world, owe much to the biological

fact of omnivorousness. So do the various adaptations we've evolved to

defeat the defenses of other creatures so that we might eat them, in-

cluding our skills at hunting and cooking with fire. Some philosophers

have argued that the very open-endedness of human appetite is respon-

sible for both our savagery and civility, since a creature that could con-

ceive of eating anything (including, notably, other humans) stands in

particular need of ethical rules, manners, and rituals. We are not only

what we eat, but how we eat, too.

Yet we are also different from most of nature's other eaters—

markedly so. For one thing, we've acquired the ability to substantially

modify the food chains we depend on, by means of such revolutionary

technologies as cooking with fire, hunting with tools, farming, and

food preservation. Cooking opened up whole new vistas of edibility by

rendering various plants and animals more digestible, and overcoming

many of the chemical defenses other species deploy against being

eaten. Agriculture allowed us to vastly multiply the populations of a few

favored food species, and therefore in turn our own. And, most recently,

O U R N A T I O N A L E A T I N G D I S O R D E R * 7

industry has allowed us to reinvent the human food chain, from the

synthetic fertility of the soil to the microwaveable can of soup designed

to fit into a car's cup holder. The implications of this last revolution, for

our health and the health of the natural world, we are still struggling

to grasp.

The Omnivores Dilemma is about the three principal food chains that

sustain us today: the industrial, the organic, and the hunter-gatherer.

Different as they are, all three food chains are systems for doing more

or less the same thing: linking us, through what we eat, to the fertility

of the earth and the energy of the sun. It might be hard to see how, but

even a Twinkie does this—constitutes an engagement with the natural

world. As ecology teaches, and this book tries to show, it's all con-

nected, even the Twinkie.

Ecology also teaches that all life on earth can be viewed as a compe-

tition among species for the solar energy captured by green plants and

stored in the form of complex carbon molecules. A food chain is a sys-

tem for passing those calories on to species that lack the plant's unique

ability to synthesize them from sunlight. One of the themes of this

book is that the industrial revolution of the food chain, dating to the

close of World War II, has actually changed the fundamental rules of

this game. Industrial agriculture has supplanted a complete reliance on

the sun for our calories with something new under the sun: a food

chain that draws much of its energy from fossil fuels instead. (Of

course, even that energy originally came from the sun, but unlike sun-

light it is finite and irreplaceable.) The result of this innovation has been

a vast increase in the amount of food energy available to our species;

this has been a boon to humanity (allowing us to multiply our num-

bers), but not an unalloyed one. We've discovered that an abundance of

food does not render the omnivore 's dilemma obsolete. To the contrary,

abundance seems only to deepen it, giving us all sorts of new problems

and things to worry about.

Each of this book's three parts follows one of the principal human

food chains from beginning to end: from a plant, or group of plants,

photosynthesizing calories in the sun, all the way to a meal at the din-

8 * T H E OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

ner end of that food chain. Reversing the chronological order, I start

with the industrial food chain, since that is the one that today involves

and concerns us the most. It is also by far the biggest and longest. Since

monoculture is the hallmark of the industrial food chain, this section

focuses on a single plant: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass we call corn,

which has become the keystone species of the industrial food chain,

and so in turn of the modern diet. This section follows a bushel of com-

modity corn from the field in Iowa where it grew on its long, strange

journey to its ultimate destination in a fast-food meal, eaten in a mov-

ing car on a highway in Marin County, California.

The book's second part follows what I call—to distinguish it from

the industrial—the pastoral food chain. This section explores some of

the alternatives to industrial food and farming that have sprung up in

recent years (variously called "organic," "local," "biological," and "be-

yond organic"), food chains that might appear to be preindustrial but

in surprising ways turn out in fact to be postindustrial. I set out think-

ing I could follow one such food chain, from a radically innovative

farm in Virginia that I worked on one recent summer to an extremely

local meal prepared from animals raised on its pastures. But I promptly

discovered that no single farm or meal could do justice to the complex,

branching story of alternative agriculture right now, and that I needed

also to reckon with the food chain I call, oxymoronically, the "indus-

trial organic." So the book's pastoral section serves up the natural his-

tory of two very different "organic" meals: one whose ingredients

came from my local Whole Foods supermarket (gathered there from as

far away as Argentina), and the other tracing its origins to a single poly-

culture of grasses growing at Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.

The last section, titled Personal, follows a kind of neo-Paleolithic

food chain from the forests of Northern California to a meal I prepared

(almost) exclusively from ingredients I hunted, gathered, and grew

myself. Though we twenty-first-century eaters still eat a handful of

hunted and gathered food (notably fish and wild mushrooms), my in-

terest in this food chain was less practical than philosophical: I hoped

to shed fresh light on the way we eat now by immersing myself in the

OUR NATIONAL EATING DISORDER

way we ate then. In order to make this meal I had to learn how to do

some unfamiliar things, including hunting game and foraging for wild

mushrooms and urban tree fruit. In doing so I was forced to confront

some of the most elemental questions—and dilemmas—faced by the

human omnivore: What are the moral and psychological implications of

killing, preparing, and eating a wild animal? How does one distinguish

between the delicious and the deadly when foraging in the woods? How

do the alchemies of the kitchen transform the raw stuffs of nature into

some of the great delights of human culture?

The end result of this adventure was what I came to think of as the

Perfect Meal, not because it turned out so well (though in my humble

opinion it did), but because this labor- and thought-intensive dinner,

enjoyed in the company of fellow foragers, gave me the opportunity, so

rare in modern life, to eat in full consciousness of everything involved

in feeding myself: For once, I was able to pay the full karmic price of

a meal.

Yet as different as these three journeys (and four meals) turned out

to be, a few themes kept cropping up. One is that there exists a funda-

mental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human in-

dustry, at least as it is presently organized. Our ingenuity in feeding

ourselves is prodigious, but at various points our technologies come

into conflict with nature's ways of doing things, as when we seek to

maximize efficiency by planting crops or raising animals in vast mono-

cultures. This is something nature never does, always and for good

reasons practicing diversity instead. A great many of the health and en-

vironmental problems created by our food system owe to our attempts

to oversimplify nature's complexities, at both the growing and the eat-

ing ends of our food chain. At either end of any food chain you find a

biological system—a patch of soil, a human body—and the health of

one is connected—literally—to the health of the other. Many of the

problems of health and nutrition we face today trace back to things that

happen on the farm, and behind those things stand specific govern-

ment policies few of us know anything about.

I don't mean to suggest that human food chains have only recently

THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA

come into conflict with the logic of biology; early agriculture and, long

before that, human hunting proved enormously destructive. Indeed,

we might never have needed agriculture had earlier generations of

hunters not eliminated the species they depended upon. Folly in the

getting of our food is nothing new. And yet the new follies we are per-

petrating in our industrial food chain today are of a different order. By

replacing solar energy with fossil fuel, by raising millions of food ani-

mals in close confinement, by feeding those animals foods they never

evolved to eat, and by feeding ourselves foods far more novel than we

even realize, we are taking risks with our health and the health of the

natural world that are unprecedented.

Another theme, or premise really, is that the way we eat represents

our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eat-

ing turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into

our bodies and minds. Agriculture has done more to reshape the natu-

ral world than anything else we humans do, both its landscapes and the

composition of its flora and fauna. Our eating also constitutes a rela-

tionship with dozens of other species—plants, animals, and fungi—

with which we have coevolved to the point where our fates are deeply

entwined. Many of these species have evolved expressly to gratify our

desires, in the intricate dance of domestication that has allowed us

and them to prosper together as we could never have prospered apart.

But our relationships with the wild species we eat—from the mush-

rooms we pick in the forest to the yeasts that leaven our bread—are no

less compelling, and far more mysterious. Eating puts us in touch with

all that we share with the other animals, and all that sets us apart. It de-

fines us.

What is perhaps most troubling, and sad, about industrial eating is

how thoroughly it obscures all these relationships and connections. To

go from the chicken (Gallus gallus) to the Chicken McNugget is to leave

this world in a journey of forgetting that could hardly be more costly,

not only in terms of the animal's pain but in our pleasure, too. But for-

getting, or not knowing in the first place, is what the industrial food

chain is all about, the principal reason it is so opaque, for if we could

O U R N A T I O N A L E A T I N G D I S O R D E R * ! !

see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our indus-

trial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat.

"Eating is an agricultural act," as Wendell Berry famously said. It is

also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been

done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a

great extent the use we make of the world—and what is to become of

it. To eat with a fuller consciousness of all that is at stake might sound

like a burden, but in practice few things in life can afford quite as much

satisfaction. By comparison, the pleasures of eating industrially, which

is to say eating in ignorance, are fleeting. Many people today seem per-

fectly content eating at the end of an industrial food chain, without a

thought in the world; this book is probably not for them. There are

things in it that will ruin their appetites. But in the end this is a book

about the pleasures of eating, the kinds of pleasure that are only deep-

ened by knowing.

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