The Botany of Desire
And we thought we were in charge in the garden.
PBS's luminous production of Michael Pollan's best-selling book, "The Botany of Desire" premiers Wednesday at 8 p.m. on a public television station near you, and it is worth every single minute of its two hours.
With Pollan's narration and vivid film and photos, the program seeks to illustrate Pollan's theory that four plants - the tulip, the apple, the marijuana plant and the potato - manipulated mankind into worldwide propagation by appealing to man's need for beauty, sweetness, control and our search for our own consciousness.
"They have been shaping us," says Pollan on camera. "They have been using us for their own success."
Tulips have such power that their bulbs have been the equivalent of currency.
Marijuana so satisfied our need to look inside ourselves that man has risked his live and his freedom to propagate it.
The apple so satisfies our need for sweetness that we have made it the universal fruit.
And the potato, satisfying our need to feed ourselves, has emerged from the jungles of South America to be a diet staple for humans.
"These plants are the great winners in the dance of domestication," says Pollan.
This lush program will be rebroadcast throughout the weekend. Check local listings.
Or better yet, buy a copy of the DVD and a portion of the sales will benefit PBS.
Rembrandt tulip photo courtesy of PBS