Evolutionary Shephard

One of my favorite persons is Luther Burbank. He was a botanist and inventor who had a lasting effect on the world we know today. You may not know the name but you know the fruits of his labor. The potato we know today is thanks to him, before he nurtured this species the were small and bitter. He was also responsible for making many of the fruits we eat today able to keep from rotting for a more prolonged period of time this made it possible to ship fruit across the nation and spurred an agricultural revolution.

Like all great artists and scientists; Burbank’s work was never done. He wrote about how his plants were just the beginning and listed many more species he thought were ready for human shepharding.

When I think about my own list of plants that I am excited to work with I am most excited by algae. To me it represents evolution incarnate. Algae is over 3 billion years old and has within it’s genetic record the history of our planet. It reproduces quickly and as such can adapt to many environments quickly. The oil we use everyday comes from ancient algae deposits. When we take the toxins we pumped into our atmosphere back out; it is my hypothesis that algae will be our ally in extracting those toxins.

I think that Luther Burbank’s contribution to the world is a great one just like Johnny Appleseed. It is a great gift that is given to the world when we help plants reach higher potentials. To me, it makes death ok and life worth living. Consider the Pharaohs of Egypt, their pyramids were a mark on history that lasts until this day. But the apple and the potato brings joy to billions of people each day. What will your legacy be?

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