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American Poems: Books: The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World
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 Home » Books » The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-eye View of the World

  • Buy New: $8.85
  • as of 7/13/2014 02:18 EDT details
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  • Seller:thbooks4you
  • Sales Rank:3,188,092
  • Languages:English (Unknown), English (Original Language), English (Published)
  • Media:Paperback
  • Number Of Items:1
  • Pages:320
  • Shipping Weight (lbs):1.1
  • Publication Date:March 3, 2002
  • ISBN:0747563004
  • EAN:9780747563006
  • ASIN:0747563004
Availability:Usually ships in 1-2 business days

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Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis
A farmer cultivates genetically modified potatoes so that a customer at McDonald's half a world away can enjoy a long, golden french fry. A gardener plants tulip bulbs in the autumn and in the spring has a riotous patch of colour to admire. Two simple examples of how humans act on nature to get what we want. Or are they? What if those potatoes and tulips have evolved to gratify certain human desires so that humans will help them multiply? What if, in other words, these plants are using us just as we use them? In blending history, memoir and superb science writing, Pollan tells the story of four domesticated species - the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato. All four plants are integral to our everyday lives and Pollan demonstrates how each has thrived by satisfying one of humankind's most basic desires. Weaving fascinating anecdote and accessible science, Pollan takes the reader on an absorbing journey through the landscape of botany and desire. It is a journey that will change the way we think about our place in nature
Amazon.com Review
Working in his garden one day, Michael Pollan hit pay dirt in the form of an idea: do plants, he wondered, use humans as much as we use them? While the question is not entirely original, the way Pollan examines this complex coevolution by looking at the natural world from the perspective of plants is unique. The result is a fascinating and engaging look at the true nature of domestication.

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


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