The Dirt

Botany of Desire on PBS

Do we control plants, or have they been shaping us? This is the intriguing question Michael Pollan poses in Botany of Desire, airing on PBS on October 28. The documentary, based on Pollan’s book of the same name, explores the complex, symbiotic relationship between plants and humans.

According to Pollan, plants act as mirrors of humans, reflecting what we desire. He focuses on four species–apples, tulips, cannabis, and potatoes–and examines how they have adapted and changed over time based on our desires for sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control over our environment.

The documentary examines the political, social, and cultural implications of allowing our desires to dictate our agricultural strategies, especially the decision to farm in monocultures.

Pollan states that humans cast “evolutionary votes” every day when we choose, for example, the flowers we display, the foods we eat, and the drugs we ingest. Ignoring this influence could have a profound effect not only on various plant species but also on our own species.

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  1. user-7006872 10/19/2009

    I read this book when it first came out a number of years ago & found 4 very unique stories & some interesting thoughts on life...

    "Could it be that sweetness is the prototype of all desire?"
    or this comment out of context:
    "Memory is the enemy of wonder… unless you are a child, wonder depends on forgetting."

    This is a real good read & should be a great PBS special!

  2. KarenBudnick 10/20/2009

    I just finished reading this book. I'm long past thinking I'm in control of my universe but after reading Pollan's book I feel so "used". I love my plants anyway. Or do they love me????

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