Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sunday Book Review

I just picked up a copy of 'Botany of Desire' by Michael Pollan. Often in the world of science literature, there is a tenancy to to succumb to one of two fates. "This is the most important book you will ever read and you need to save the planet because of it" or "I am so wrapped up in the details and minutia of a very specific topic that it is practically impossible to glean any real meaning from this work". This book falls out side of both of those and into an entirely new realm.

So far the direction of the book has been to strip humanity of its exceptionalism and place it squarely where it belongs, as a part of a complex ecosystem, and done elegantly with out being condescending. The opening pages of the introduction had me hooked. The concept that we are not just eating inanimate objects when we stare down a plate full of potatoes but actual being still constrained by natural selection with a unique adaptive trait of inducing humans into protecting and spreading their young is truly fascinating.

I have heard about people who live entirely off foods that can be made with out harming the organism they came from, like fruits, nuts, and seeds. But when you consider the trade off of being harvested from time to time but with the advantage of having your young brought up in carefully protected conditions and literally doted over, it makes you wonder who is really domesticating who.

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