Reach & Read: The Botany of Desire

The Botany of Desire: Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

I listened this book by Michael Pollan, which suits it well as it is really a book of four short stories. The chapters include an in depth look at the evolution of the apple tree (and Johnny Appleseed lore), marijuana, potatoes and tulips. I certainly learned a few things but did find that Michael overused some two words, that got on my nerves: hubris and variations of Dionysus.

Hubris: a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence (thanks Miriam W!) hmm.

What the heck is Dionysian? Schools of thought – decoded here by Wikipedia

The big themes touched on near deadly sins (the desires): sweetness, control, intoxication and beauty. My favorite chapters were Potato and Johnny Appleseed: both eye opening and certainly reinvigorated my plans for potatoes this year, albeit organic, natural, non-GMO, non-Monsanto. The more I learn of Monsanto and its power over common sense farming, the more concerned I become. Yes, I will undoubtedly eat McDonald’s fries again (they TASTE so good, hot and fresh, infrequent) but not without lecturing those around me about how, EVEN THOUGH Ronald brags the potatoes are “local”, they are near alterna- worldly. Perhaps the best part of the book is its opening sequence, featuring everyone’s favorite pollinators: bees. But as you make your way through the book, you will ponder time and again who is serving who in terms of carrying forward the plant race. Don’t hate the player hate the game???? But who’s game is it?

While the audio book was decent and I am sure the print version is on par – PBS has created a mini-series allowing you to consume each section in its entirety with your eyes, ears and mind. Check it out!

Without flowers, we would not be. – M. Pollan

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