The Botany of Desire!

If you are anything like me, you consume enough books that they could be considered part of your diet! Each book is like a tile, great or small, in the mosaic of world-view that we are each assembling.

There is such a joy and satisfaction for me when I discover a critical piece of information that answers questions that I have long held.

And while I love reading, sometimes I get even more (I must admit) out of watching a well crafted video.

One example is the PBS documentary "The Botany of Desire " with Michael Pollan.

I first came across the work of Michael Pollan when I read (ok, it was an audio book) "In Defense of Food". His grounded and well researched teachings on nutrition and the environmental and psychological impacts of our diets have earned him tremendous respect as and author and authority on the subject (he's a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley).

My personal approach to nutrition has indeed been influenced by his writings, and most influential of all was the documentary "The Botany of Desire".  Here are some video extras from the documentary, and the rest is available for purchase or download online.

The theme of lectures I have been giving around the continent this year has been "Indigenous Nutrition and Human Evolution", and much of the focus has been on the breeding of our modern food supply.

In my own life I have been pursuing a diet made up of (as much as I can) local, heirloom, and wild species. This has proven an interesting and valuable endeavor, and I am constantly amazed to discover the source of the foods that I grew up on.  More on this in later blogs.

So much of the The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World is focused on breeding, and more specifically the breeding of four plants; apples, potatoes, tulips, and cannabis!  While each section is amazing, I was most taken by the segment on the apple.

For instance, did you know that all of the apples in our modern diet are genetic clones?  It's true, the apple tree as we think of it is a grafted plant, and its fruit is exceptionally hybridized. This is so strange because we tend to, as a culture, consider the apple the very symbol of "natural food". Not so! In fact the modern apple scarcely resembles the true wild apple in taste, size, or nutritional profile.


As an example, most of us find the idea of cloning sheep or humans strange. Many of us, in fact, might even have a moral repulsion to the idea. And yet so much of the fruits we eat are cloned, and few of us are even aware.  This is why my teachings have been focusing in on foods that are bred wisely, or when possible, are wild!

PS; more interesting still is the history of the real life character Johnny Apple Seed. This strangely clad and barefoot historical figure was committed to much more than just growing apples.  He was committed to planting apples from seed.  As strange as it may seem this was and still is a revolutionary concept!  Did you know that every seed in an apple (there are 5) will bring forth a different type of apple tree?  It is this unpredictability that has led to its cloning!

Watch the The Botany of Desire DVD for the rest of the story, and then comment below to let me know what you think!