Sunday, February 24, 2008

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

Author: Michael Pollan

First line: The seeds of this book were first planted in my garden--while I was planting seeds, as a matter of fact.

Why you should read this book: Beginning with the thesis that domestic agriculture is not a human invention, but rather something that grasses did to people to give them a leg up in their ongoing battle with trees, Pollan lays out the relationship between plants and people in terms of manipulation of desire: plants fulfilling some basic drives in exchange for most-favored status. Four plants and four corresponding desires are examined: apples and sweetness, tulips and beauty, marijuana and intoxication, and potatoes and control. This is an intense, well-researched and wonderfully written book that will necessarily change your perspective on the ideals of order and innovation, the place of man in nature, and the food you put into your mouth.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You're a lawyer for Monsanto, currently litigating cases against farmers who have stolen your client's intellectual property (i.e. planted unlicensed spuds genetically impregnated with pesticide).

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