Love plants? Then watch Michael Pollan’s “Botany of Desire” on PBS Wednesday October 28

Plants in Pollan's Botany of Desire

Plants in Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire

by Susan Harris Second Nature
Most people know Michael Pollan as a food writer and activist for local and organic food, but his earlier gardening books are what made me a fan.   His Second Nature (1991) was honestly the first really interesting thing I’d ever read about gardening, anywhere.  Most memorable chapters?  “Why Mow,” which challenged the inevitability of having a lawn, “Compost and its Moral Imperatives”, “Weeds are Us” (amen!) and my favorite, “Made Wild by Pompous Catalogs”.

botanyofdesire_fullThen came Botany of Desire in 2002 and again Pollan’s subject is so darn interesting – four plants and their telling relationships with humans.  Tulips satisfy our desire for beauty.  Apples, for sweetness.  Potatoes, the need to feed ourselves.  And marijuana  alters our consciousness – as do hops and grapes, but marijuana’s more interesting because of the legal risks involved.  And now the good news is that Botany of Desire has been made into a documentary, narrated largely by Pollan, who’s scary articulate on apparently any subject.  It airs Wednesday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Eastern time on PBS.  Here’s the trailer.


Photos in collage, clockwise from upper right: by Martin LaBar, Laughing Squid, Soylent Green, and Mediterrate.

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