Power To The Potato Essay, Research PaperPower to the potatoThe Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan 306pp, BloomsburyIn 1985 Henry Hobhouse published an of import and original piece of historical authorship called Seeds of Change: Five Plants that Transformed Mankind. In 1999 Anna Pavord & # 8217 ; s chef-d’oeuvre, The Tulip, appeared, which even tulipomaniacs would hold said everything at that place was to state about tulips. Now Michael Pollan takes four workss & # 8211 ; including the tulip and the murphy, which was given a comprehensive going-over by Hobhouse & # 8211 ; to give us what he calls a works & # 8217 ; s-eye position of the universe.
His book takes an inventive spring into the works universe which fascinates, irritates and challenges in equal step. His premiss is that whereas we think we have domesticated and used workss to our ain terminals, it is in fact they who have used us as a agency of endurance. They have a job in that they can non travel. They have hence, over 1000000s of old ages, evolved ways of contending off marauders and of reproducing themselves without stirring from one topographic point. So far so simple. But Pollan goes farther. He attributes to workss inordinately sophisticated and manipulative ways of acquiring what they want.
The app le gratifies our taste for sweetness, the tulip seduces us with its beauty, and marijuana tempts us into intoxication. Musing on his own embarrassing and abortive attempts to grow marijuana in his backyard, Pollan points out that in order to succeed in North America cannabis had to do two things. “It had to prove it could gratify a human desire so brilliantly that people would take extraordinary risks to cultivate it, and it had to find the right combination of genes to adapt to a most peculiar and thoroughly artificial new environment.
” He goes on to describe new hybrids with higher concentrations of THC (the plant’s principal psychoactive compound) than ever before. Cannabis has thrived, he says, on its taboo. He ends by attributing unexpected power to the potato: once it is genetically modified – and he has in a small way been experimenting with GM crops in his own garden – it gives us a sense of control over nature. Or does it? His book does not have the intellectual rigour of Hobhouse’s social history. His ideas tumble over one another, sometimes wildly, but they are infectious.
Unassumingly, he describes his book as “stories about Man and Nature”. They are stories that make you look to the future.