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In making his point, Pollan focuses on the relationship between humans and four specific plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. He uses the history of John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) to illustrate how both the apple's sweetness and its role in the production of alcoholic cider made it appealing to settlers moving west, thus greatly expanding the plant's range. He also explains how human manipulation of the plant has weakened it, so that "modern apples require more pesticide than any other food crop." The tulipomania of 17th-century Holland is a backdrop for his examination of the role the tulip's beauty played in wildly influencing human behavior to both the benefit and detriment of the plant (the markings that made the tulip so attractive to the Dutch were actually caused by a virus). His excellent discussion of the potato combines a history of the plant with a prime example of how biotechnology is changing our relationship to nature. As part of his research, Pollan visited the Monsanto company headquarters and planted some of their NewLeaf brand potatoes in his garden--seeds that had been genetically engineered to produce their own insecticide. Though they worked as advertised, he made some startling discoveries, primarily that the NewLeaf plants themselves are registered as a pesticide by the EPA and that federal law prohibits anyone from reaping more than one crop per seed packet. And in a interesting aside, he explains how a global desire for consistently perfect French fries contributes to both damaging monoculture and the genetic engineering necessary to support it.
Pollan has read widely on the subject and elegantly combines literary, historical, philosophical, and scientific references with engaging anecdotes, giving readers much to ponder while weeding their gardens. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Great informative book---covers the human desires for sweetness (apple), beauty (tulip), intoxication (marijuana), and control (potato). Read morePublished 8 days ago by Andrea D. Sampson
This is a book that makes you think not just about food but about the nature of mankind, the power of what we call Nature and the element of chaos or unpredictability that drives... Read morePublished 14 days ago by Lewis F. Murphy
Excellent book! The chapter on cannabis develops a facsinating hypothesis about the co-evolution between mind-alterng plants and plant-eating animals...Published 19 days ago by Serge H Ahmed
The Botany of Desire shows the world from a plant's view. It is a good read, with the tulips successful colonization of the world, and it's place in our universe, then other... Read morePublished 19 days ago by LK
One of my favorite books. So eye-opening. It reveals the history of the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potatoe in a new light.Published 21 days ago by Schooba Bob
Interesting, informative and an enjoyable read. Pollan tells a great story about four common plants and their influence on people and people's influence on them and how we ended up... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Paul mcCullough