Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Botany of Desire

What a pleasant surprise I had a few weeks ago when my friend surprised with me an invitation to a screening and discussion of The Botany of Desire at The Asia Society. It is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors (Michael Pollan) that was recently made into a PBS documentary, directed by Michael Schwartz and airs for the first time on PBS October 28. We were lucky enough to view the screening and attend the Q & A with Michael Pollan, Michael Schwartz, and Daljit Dhaliwal (of Worldfocus on PBS). They also had a Q & A with the audience and I got my copy signed by the author himself!

A refreshing look at our relationship to food, the author suggests and supports how plants control us, versus us controlling them(via agriculture, genetic modification, globalization, etc.), which is our tendency as humans. He does this by choosing four different plants and dividing his argument into four sections: apple (sweetness), marijuana (intoxication), tulip (beauty), and potato (control). In parentheses are the means by which the plant controls us without us necessarily realizing it.

In recent years, food films have tended to be exposes of our corrupt food industry and tend to preach about what we, as a society, are doing wrong and sort of guilt us into changing our habits. The Botany of Desire is truly a different flavor of film. While Michael Pollan may be a plant lover and locavore, he doesn't present his research from a preachy viewpoint or simply tell us what we are doing wrong which is why I consider him to be more of a food spiritualist and philosopher. Instead we are taken on a journey to the soil, if you will. We join the plant's side of things and seethrough the plant's eyes how humans have changed plants' states of being over the past few centuries.
If you haven't read it and have any interest in food, gardening, plants, or science, I consider all of his books to be "must- reads". If you are not up for getting the book and reading it (though you would really be missing out), check out The Botany of Desire on PBS October 28!

Click here to learn more or buy the DVD:

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