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The Botany Of Desire

A Plant's-Eye View of the World
Paperback Book
Publisher: 
Random House
 | 
May, 2002
ISBN:
9780375760396
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Banyen's Description: 

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: the bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal partnership. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato.

I’ve chosen the apple, the tulip, cannabis, and the potato for several logical-sounding reasons. One is that they represent four important classes of domesticated plants (a fruit, a flower, a drug plant, and a staple food). Also, having grown these four plants at one time or another in my own garden, I’m on fairly intimate terms with them. But the real reason I chose these plants and not another four is simpler than that: they have great stories to tell.

In telling the fascinating stories of four familiar species, he illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?

This book tells a different story about Man and Nature, one that aims to put us back in the great reciprocal web that is life on Earth. My hope is that by the time you close its covers, things outside (and inside) will look a little different, so that when you see an apple tree across a road or a tulip across a table, it won’t appear quite so alien, so Other. Seeing these plants instead as willing partners in an intimate and reciprocal relationship with us means looking at ourselves a little differently, too: as the objects of other species’ designs and desires, as one of the newer bees in Darwin’s garden—ingenious, sometimes reckless, and remarkably unself-conscious. Think of this book as that bee’s mirror.

 

Publisher’s Description: 

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desiressweetness, beauty, intoxication, and controlwith the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankinds most basic yearnings. And just as weve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires-sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control-with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?

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