“The surprising thing is, we don’t ordinarily regard species like the cow and the potato, the tulip and the dog, as nature’s more extraordinary creatures. Domesticated species don’t command our respect the way their wild cousins often do. Evolution may reward interdependence, but our thinking selves continue to prize self-reliance. The wolf is somehow more impressive to us than the dog.
Yet there are fifty million dogs in America today, only ten thousand wolves. So what does the dog know about getting along in this world that its wild ancestor dosn’t? The big thing the dog knows about – the subject it has mastered in the ten thousand years it has been evolving at our side – is us: our needs and desires, our emotions and values, all of which it has folded into its genes as part of a sophisiticated strategy for survival. If you could read the genome of the dog like a book, you would learn a great deal about who we are and what makes us tick. We don’t ordinarily give plants as much credit as animals, but the same would be true of the genetic books of the apple, the tulip, cannabis, and the potato. We could read volumes about ourselves in their pages, in the ingenious sets of instructions they’ve developed for turning people into bees.”
By Michael Pollan from The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World