A farmer cultivates genetically modified potatoes so that a customer at McDonald's half a world away can enjoy a long, golden french fry. A gardener plants tulip bulbs in the autumn and in the spring has a riotous patch of colour to admire. Two simple examples of how humans act on nature to get what we want. Or are they? What if those potatoes and tulips have evolved to gratify certain human desires so that humans will help them multiply? What if, in other words, these plants are using us just as we use them? In blending history, memoir and superb science writing, Pollan tells the story of four domesticated species – the apple, the tulip, marijuana and the potato. All four plants are integral to our everyday lives and Pollan demonstrates how each has thrived by satisfying one of humankind's most basic desires. Weaving fascinating anecdote and accessible science, Pollan takes the reader on an absorbing journey through the landscape of botany and desire. It is a journey that will change the way we think about our place in nature
Michael Pollan is the author of two prize-winning books, Second Nature and A Place of my Own. A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, Pollan was recently awarded the first Reuters-World Conservation Union Global Award for Excellence in Environmental Journalism. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and son.
Shortlisted for the Natural World Book Prize 2002
"Pollan's stories sparkle with curious facts and bold superstitions His aim is to encourage us to reconsider our place in the natural world"
– Sunday Telegraph
"Beautifully written, as compelling as a detective thriller"
– Penelope Hobhouse
"An immensely readable and thought-provoking book"
– The Independent
"Pollen's stories sparkle with curious facts and bold superstitions His aim is to encourage us to reconsider our place in the natural world"
– Anne Chisholm, Sunday Telegraph