Nature’s Gardeners What kind of nature do we want? Publication date : September 20, 2017
Serge Bahuchet, an ethno-ecologist and a specialist in the study of relations between human societies and tropical forests, is a professor at the National Museum of Natural History, where he created the Department “Men, Nature and Society”
Nature is in danger.
For all that, behind the famous images of the deforestation of the Amazonian forest and of polar bears drifting on sea ice, the very idea we have of nature is obsolete.
The forest is indeed the victim of human greed and the bear of global warming caused by our industrial revolution, but it would be absurd to compare industrious and cynical man to untouched nature. The latter is a myth in that from the beginning homo erectus moulded nature for his own convenience, and man well knows that he owes his survival only to a rich and varied diet – which is called biodiversity.
To show this, the author takes us on an extraordinary and exciting journey to the sources of agricultural and culinary practices, from species of Peruvian potatoes to porcupine hunting among the Pygmies, from the domestication of the carp to the bactericidal properties of the pepper, to wine and beer civilisations, to those great pioneers, the Cistercian and Buddhist monks.
This “anthropology of everyday life” shines a powerful light on our ordinary life styles, revealing the complex underlying web of interdependence that closely links our problems as Westerners to those of other peoples, and oddly enough, to two thirds of those for whom the ordinary is well known to be inadequate. Saving the Amazonian forest also means working for social justice. Eating better and promoting biodiversity also means promoting advances in democracy. Nature will be what we want to make of it.