by Susan Harris
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”.
Then 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.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdXOeWMwX-4&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]