The book that helped make Michael Pollan, the New York Times bestselling author of Cooked and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, one of the most trusted food experts in America
Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?
About the Author
Courtney White is the author of Grass. Soil. Hope. A former archaeologist and Sierra Club activist, White dropped out of the "conflict industry" in 1997 to co-found the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to building bridges between ranchers, conservationists, public land managers, scientists, and others around the idea of land health (www.quiviracoalition.org). Today, his work with Quivira concentrates on building economic and ecological resilience on working landscapes, with a special emphasis on carbon ranching and the new agrarian movement.
His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Farming, Acres Magazine, Rangelands, Natural Resources Journal, and Solutions. His essay "The Working Wilderness: A Call for a Land Health Movement" was published by Wendell Berry in 2005 in his collection of essays titled The Way of Ignorance.
Courtney is the author of the book Revolution on the Range: the Rise of a New Ranch in the American West, and he co-edited, with Dr. Rick Knight, Conservation for a New Generation, both published by Island Press in 2008.
In 2012, he published a collection of black-and-white photographs of the American West in an online book titled The Indelible West, which includes a foreword by Wallace Stegner.
He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his family and a backyard full of chickens.
“Pollan shines a light on our own nature as well as on our implication in the natural world.”
—The New York Times
“[Pollan] has a wide-ranging intellect, an eager grasp of evolutionary biology and a subversive streak that helps him to root out some wonderfully counterintuitive points. His prose both shimmers and snaps, and he has a knack for finding perfect quotes in the oddest places.... Best of all, Pollan really loves plants.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A wry, informed pastoral.”
—The New Yorker
“We can give no higher praise to the work of this superb science writer/ reporter than to say that his new book is as exciting as any you’ll read.”
“A whimsical, literary romp through man’s perpetually frustrating and always unpredictable relationship with nature.”
—Los Angeles Times