23 Aug

After discovering the journalist/writer Michael Pollan a few years back, I soon realized the seminal nature of the works he has penned over the past decade including, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World.  While not as nutritionally-centered as Pollan’s other books, The Botany delivers as a thought-provoking notion of what happens when humans attempt to constrict, or tame the natural world. Pollan just may be the Upton Sinclair of our generation, lifting the veil of societal notions that we choose to collectively ignore. In my view, decades from now, Pollan will be rightfully revered.

There are many overarching questions posed by Pollan:

  • Do we as humans bilaterally shape nature, or does a mutual partnership with nature exist that somehow shapes us?
  • Are we as a society heading down a dangerous path in which biodiversity is threatened as a result of our extensive tinkering with the natural order of the universe?
To quote his work: “This is the assembly of life that it took a billion years to evolve,” the zoologist E. O. Wilson has written, speaking of biodiversity….To risk this multiplicity is to risk unstringing the world.”
Is it a complete stretch to think that our future and our natural order of things depends on the “multiplicity” of genetically unique species?


It certainly would set up the perfect scenario for a work of fiction in a dystopian, draconian, Randian sense. Imagine a future with ONE crop…a monoculture, where people forget what true food tastes like, and eat this one crop merely for sustenance, as it’s been genetically altered to have all the nutrients that humans ever need. The diversity of species across the globe (from plants to animals) plummets as a result of continued genetic manipulation. A group of scientists control the source of this one crop and therefore ostensibly rule the world by controlling the food supply. Scary thought, right? Possible? Who knows.

Maybe it’s a novel that I will pen myself one day but for today…

I’ll leave you with a quote:

“…our sense of plants as passive objects is a failure of imagination, rooted in the fact that plants occupy what amounts to a different dimension.”

Always going for glory!

C.E. Steinfeld


3 Responses to “Monoculture?”

  1. Kimani Jefferson August 23, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    Good post. I especially like the quote at the end. It reminds me of “The Elegant Universe.” Meaning, the universe described by string theory requires 11 dimensions, which look like roses.

    Anyway, I agree with the contention, that we are killing ourselves with these crops. I believe that we are creatures of our environments and diversity is important in that aspect too. My only solace is knowing that the French will never let go of terroir!


    • Angel February 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

      I enjoy what you guys are up too. This type of cvleer work and coverage! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

  2. Jay Steinfeld August 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    It’s hard enough to get people to think about and plan what they’re going to do tomorrow,

    I for one will fight till end for my lobster, wine and tasty pasta with ripe tomato sauce.
    Oh, and peach cobbler.


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