A Plant's-Eye View of the World

Michael Pollan has written more than a half dozen books on humans' essential relationship to plants. But my favorite remains, The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.

In The Botany of Desire,  Pollan looks at four epic tales—the Irish Potato Famine, Johnny Appleseed, the Dutch Tulip mania and the ongoing debate around marijuana. And he illustrates just how these particular plants thrive largely because of their successful domestication of us!

Our mutually beneficial relationship with these plants has helped them thrive sometimes at our own expense: our reliance on a monoculture of potatoes, for example, caused a mass famine and emigration from Ireland;  the planting of crab apples in America encouraged alcohol consumption among early settlers;  tulips leveled the 17th century Dutch economy;  and marijuana still sparks political debate.   Pollan is a thoughtful and accessible writer. His Food Rules - especially as illustrated by Maira Kalman - is another great read.

jane beck

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