BLOG: Plants first!
About plant blindness and the relevance of plants in life
Author: Harm Custers – Head of Marketing at Takii Europe B.V.
A child easily names ten different animals. What happens if you ask for ten different plants? It gets silent.
Imagine taking a walk in the woods and seeing a deer. No doubt you remember it afterwards. It could even be the highlight of your little adventure. But what about all the plants, trees and flowers you passed while walking? The chances are that you have paid little attention to the greenery crossing your path.
Both examples are what researchers call ‘plant blindness’. U.S. botanists Elisabeth Schussler and James Wandersee defined plant blindness as “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment,” leading to “the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.” I recognize this immediately, most of us don’t value the relevance of plants enough.
It is remarkable to realize that we, humans, tend to rank ourselves and animals as superior to plants. Researchers found that this has several reasons. Unlike humans, plants cannot talk. Plants don’t move, and people are tuned in to motion. Plants also tend to blend visually. And we grow up with more familiarity and empathy toward animals.
I dare to state that plants are underappreciated and understudied. The world is dependent on plants. Humans are dependent on plants for life and health; visa-versa plants are not dependent on us! Many of our biggest challenges of the 21st century are plant-based: health, global warming, food security, livable cities and stress reduction. How nice would it be if more people, instead of seeing a wall of green, saw individual plants as a potential medicine, a source of food, or a loved part of their community?
For a few years now, we have a political party in the Netherlands, that stands explicitly for animal rights. That makes me wonder: isn’t it time for a political plant party – one that puts plants first?!