My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Journalist Michael Pollan brings a gardener’s eye to four plants to reveal our human relationship to the vegetable kingdom, and how these plants fulfill our desires – or not.
These days the apple appeals to our sweet tooth, but Johnny Appleseed spread orchards for cider, specifically hard cider. The tulip shows how foolish we are with money, and how plants might fail to cooperate with our greed. Marijuana, on the other hand, seems quite willing to help us get high. Finally, the potato shows how far we’re willing to go to try to control farming, and this is the most disturbing chapter. Our efforts at control are bound to fail, perhaps catastrophically, as they have in the past.
Pollan takes a very personal look at these plants, tracing the route of Johnny Appleseed with an evangelistic guide. He muses on the tulips growing in his own garden and on his personal encounters with marijuana. As an experiment, he grows genetically engineered potatoes in his back yard.
His fondness for plants shines through his words, even as he sometimes meanders around the subject. Still, if you’re interested in the interrelationship between humans and plants, you’ll learn something.
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