A Botany of Desire

Last night i finished A Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan. This one makes the second i have read by this author and i really enjoyed it. Also completes one of my 3 for the Science Book Challenge so i feel like i am making some kind of progress. I am literally in the middle of five different books right now, rotating through whatever fits in my messenger bag or sounds interesting at the time.

So this book is about the complex relationship between people and plants. The premise is that plants please us so that we do what they want us to do. Easy example: humans cut down trees to plant crops, helping the food plants expand their territory. Pollan discusses four examples: apples, tulips, marijuana and potatoes. Each of these plants evolved in such a way that people become their promoters. We've taken them thousands of miles from their points of origin; we've devoted art to them; we've been inspired by them. There's plenty of plant science but also history (American settlement, witchcraft, Irish potato famine), biochemistry (i intend to reread the marijuana chapter again simply to absorb all the brain chemistry information) and even philosophy (the conflict of our Dionysian and Apollonian impulses). There is a lot packed into just 300 pages. The chapters on apples and potatoes are especially critical of our modern food ways as both are unsustainable monocultures. Pollan expands on that subject in Omnivore's Dilemma.

I've learned much from Pollan. I learned why Red Delicious apples are red and pretty but anything but delicious (i personally haven't eaten one since i moved out of my parents' 12 years ago). I learned why when i have had psychotropic induced munchies i have always wanted chocolate. I learned that if i ever have a garden i am going to grow heirloom blue potatoes just so i can serve them to my friends. I've learned another three reasons i should stop eating fast food.

Overall this is definitely a 7/7!


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