The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
by Michael Pollan
As humans, we are thinking that it’s up to us control nature and happily to use plants and animals to improve our life. However, if we look at it from another point of view, we’ll find some interesting facts. Some plants trick us to take care of them and help them to survive without us knowing it. The book is about four different families of plants that match specific basic human desires: sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control.
The First chapter is about the human desire for sweetness and it talks about the apple fruit specifically. It describes the origin and history of the apple tree the importance of the Johnny Apple seed (John Chapman). The seed was grown and distributed by him in the United State in the early 19th century the apple tree passes its genetic information through its seeds and it is possible to grow trees with different fruit flavors and appearance. Since 1900 apples have become more popular and people have chosen to grow apple trees with sweeter fruit. The human desire for sweetness selected the tree types that become more popular and therefore more likely to be distributed around a world.
The second chapter of this book is about breeding and plant flowering plants, which meets human beauty desire. The plant that is chosen for this chapter is tulip, which is originally from Central Asia. This chapter contains an interesting historical story about how a beautiful useless plant distributed all around the world. Approximately more than some 19 million flowers change hands each day just in the Aalsmeer Flower Market, Netherland.
Intoxication desire is the third chapter of the book and Marijuana is the plant that is chosen for this chapter. Marijuana was dispersed around the world, mainly in India and China due to ability of gratifying human consciousness. Marijuana had used as a medicine and pain relief for labor pains, asthma and rheumatism in 19th century but usage of it had been changed and people started to used eventually it as a drug and it became illegal in most countries around world. It’s interesting how people risk their life and their freedom to grow more of Marijuana.
The roots of the potato plant began in Peru. In the 16th century, when Spaniards occupied Peru, they took the potato to Europe. Later on, Irish community grew one single type of potato, the Lumper. The Lumper potato, with their genetic uniformity, soon turned vulnerable to biological pests. It was explained in this chapter how the New Leaf potato was genetically modified. This genetically modification helped killing pests with fewer toxins. However, genetically modified food raised a public concern for the possible effects that it can cause. For that reason, it was removed from the market.