The Food Explorer
The true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes--and thousands more--to the American plate.In the nineteenth century, American meals were about subsistence, not enjoyment. But as a new century approached, appetites broadened, and David Fairchild, a young botanist with an insatiable lust to explore and experience the world, set out in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.Kale from Croatia, mangoes from India, and hops from Bavaria. Peaches from China, avocados from Chile, and pomegranates from Malta. Fairchild's finds weren't just limited to food: From Egypt he sent back a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan he introduced the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America's capital. Along the way, he was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. But his culinary ambition came during a formative era, and through him, America transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.

The Food Explorer Details

TitleThe Food Explorer
Author
ReleaseFeb 20th, 2018
PublisherDutton Books
ISBN-139781101990582
Rating
GenreNonfiction, History, Food and Drink, Food, Biography, Environment, Nature, Science, Travel

The Food Explorer Review

  • Jim Fonseca
    January 1, 1970
    The true story of David Fairchild (1869-1954), a botanist who traveled the world looking for new and better food crops for American farmers. It’s not a full biography because it focuses mainly on the 20-years or so that he was actively overseas collecting new seeds, cuttings and sprouts.Fairchild collected specimens until his late 30’s. This was the 1880’s – 1890’s and much of South America, Africa, India and China were wild, primitive, dangerous places. He had great adventures being arrested an The true story of David Fairchild (1869-1954), a botanist who traveled the world looking for new and better food crops for American farmers. It’s not a full biography because it focuses mainly on the 20-years or so that he was actively overseas collecting new seeds, cuttings and sprouts.Fairchild collected specimens until his late 30’s. This was the 1880’s – 1890’s and much of South America, Africa, India and China were wild, primitive, dangerous places. He had great adventures being arrested and almost dying at various times from typhoid fever and mules losing their footing on a precipice while crossing the Andes. Although most of the time he worked for the US Department of Agriculture, a lot of the expense was financed by his millionaire companion, Barbour Lathrop, who accompanied him on many trips. In his youth Fairchild lived the life of a gay man, closeted in those days. He and Barbour were members of a “Bohemian Club.” In his late 30’s Fairchild switched his lifestyle and married Alexander Graham Bell’s daughter Marian. The fruits and plants: Fairfield was always looking for new and better fruits. Often poor specimens were already grown somewhere in the country, but they lacked appeal or had one or more of a myriad of marketing or growing problems: too thin-skinned to ship; don’t ripen all at once; not tasty; pest and disease problems; can’t be irrigated; etc. So, Fairchild brought us the ancestors of seedless grapes (and seedless raisins); mangoes avocados, papayas, nectarines, cashews, dates, lemons, nectarines, and many others. I say ancestors because all crops have changed dramatically by cross-breeding and hybridization since those early days. Not all were fruits. He brought us hops that finally let the US produce European-quality beer; Egyptian cotton, and Japanese cherry trees. Each plant has its own interesting story, whether Fairchild was the collector or not. We learn that the great expositions of the time, especially the World’s Fairs, in the days before TV and the web, were how people learned about new foods. So, the first bananas in the US were popularized at the 1876 Philadelphia World’s Fair. They were served peeled and wrapped in foil (so their shape wouldn’t offend anyone) and eaten with a knife and fork. The 1893 Chicago Fair and the 1901 Pan-Am Expo in Buffalo (at which McKinley was assassinated) were all big food emporiums. Another interesting story is the zucchini from Italy. They were tastiest when tiny (as the “ini” implies). The Italians picked them before they flowered. Now of course we buy gigantic tasteless ones and make cookies from them. (My wife says “Why don’t they give that vegetable a rest?”)In his later career, when he became a stay-at-home bureaucrat, he sent younger men out to collect. But the fun was over. His legacy was under attack for having incidentally introduced various pests and plant diseases. A Quarantine Act was passed that made the introduction of new plant a process that took years. He and his wife had children and in retirement they summered in Nova Scotia and wintered in Coconut Grove, Florida. His estate in Florida, named Kampong after a site in Java where he collected specimens, became one of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. A wealthy Floridian created an 80+ acre botanical garden in Coral Gables named in Fairchild's honor. A good read that kept my interest. Fairchild's photo from Wikipedia
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    Book DescriptionThe true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes--and thousands more--to the American plate.My ThoughtsIn the 19th century, preparing meals and eating was solely viewed as necessary for survival. People didn't go on culinary adventures or look for exotic ingredients to create flavor combinations to delight the palate. Enter David Fairchild, a botanist who tra Book DescriptionThe true adventures of David Fairchild, a late-nineteenth-century food explorer who traveled the globe and introduced diverse crops like avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes--and thousands more--to the American plate.My ThoughtsIn the 19th century, preparing meals and eating was solely viewed as necessary for survival. People didn't go on culinary adventures or look for exotic ingredients to create flavor combinations to delight the palate. Enter David Fairchild, a botanist who traveled the globe in search of food items that American farmers could grow that would then provide more choices to the American eater.Daniel Stone has written an incredibly detailed and insightful book based on David Fairchild's journeys. Love kale, mangos, avocados, pomegranates and hundreds of other crops? You can thank Mr. Fairchild. Mr. Stone used Mr.Fairchild's extensive notes to bring his journeys in the 19th and 20th centuries to life. World travel was much more complex than what we are used to today and David had many epic adventures. In addition, he had to fight our government's reluctance to bring non-native plants to America. There are so many interesting stories about the foods we as a country were eating and how Fairchild was so instrumental in shaping our culinary canvas.I read this from beginning to end in one book binge. As someone who considers herself a foodie, I am amazed that I wasn't familiar with all that David Fairchild accomplished. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in food. It was enlightening and enjoyable.Thank you, Daniel Stone, Penguin Group Dutton, and NetGalley for the digital ARC. Winning a contest is always good, but winning an outstanding book is even better.
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  • Richard Reese
    January 1, 1970
    Cue up the marching band, majorettes, flag-waving veterans, and cheering crowds. The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone is a proud celebration of American greatness. The hero of the story is David Fairchild (1869–1954), a botanist and agricultural explorer. Working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, his group was responsible for sending home seeds and cuttings of thousands of plants from nations around the world. The goal was to expand the variety of crops grown in America, and build the biggest Cue up the marching band, majorettes, flag-waving veterans, and cheering crowds. The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone is a proud celebration of American greatness. The hero of the story is David Fairchild (1869–1954), a botanist and agricultural explorer. Working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, his group was responsible for sending home seeds and cuttings of thousands of plants from nations around the world. The goal was to expand the variety of crops grown in America, and build the biggest, most profitable, industrial agriculture system in human history.The devious villain in the story is Charles Marlatt, a childhood acquaintance of Fairchild who had grown up to be an entomologist. He detested what Fairchild was doing, because the tons of samples sent home to Washington were not quarantined and thoroughly inspected. So, plant diseases and pests were free to flee and discover America. Imported insects included the codling moth, Hessian fly, asparagus beetle, hop-plant louse, cabbage worm, wheat-plant louse, pea weevil, Croton bug, boll weevil, San Jose scale, gypsy moth, brown-tail moth, Argentinian ant, alfalfa-leaf weevil, and so on. Marlatt understood that plant pests and pathogens were potentially as dangerous to society as a cholera epidemic. They could spread rapidly and cause enormous damage. Farms were getting thrashed, and Marlatt had stunning photos. It was nearly impossible to control problems once they were released into the ecosystem. It would have been far more intelligent to zap them before they left the starting gate. Fairchild scoffed at Marlatt’s hysterical paranoia. Economic benefits exceeded economic costs, he believed. America could solve any problem. Full speed ahead!The spooky fanatical weirdo in this story is Fairchild’s all-star food explorer, Frank Meyer. In deepest, darkest Asia, he often walked 20 miles (32 km) per day, through regions where locals intensely hated white folks. He had frequent confrontations, beatings, and near death experiences. He obsessively gathered and shipped thousands of plant seeds and cuttings. Folks who comprehended the botanical risks of importing exotics gave him a nickname, Typhoid Mary (Google her). In his book Grassland, Richard Manning talked about the unintended consequences of introducing European cattle to the western plains, where the climate and natural forage were not ideal for them. Efforts to introduce traditional European plants failed, so Meyer was assigned to send back plants from arid regions of Asia. Crested wheatgrass was one of his discoveries. Following the Dust Bowl, and other agricultural wipeouts, the government aggressively planted crested wheatgrass for erosion control. It thrived on the plains, aggressively replacing native vegetation with colonies that were nearly monocultures. Unfortunately, in the winter months, this wonder grass retained little nutritional value, and the mule deer, elk, and antelope starved in endless fields of grass. Manning lamented that “Meyer brought with him botanical bombs that explode even today.”The plant importation fad introduced a number of bummers. Spotted knapweed suppresses native grasses, and has now spread to 7 million acres (2.8 million ha). Grazing animals avoid it. Leafy spurge now inhabits 2.5 million acres, only some types of goats can eat it. The result is biological deserts that are expanding, and extremely expensive to eliminate — essentially impossible, according to Manning.Anyway, my curiosity about Meyer led me to discover Stone’s book. It’s easy to read, and portrays the food explorers as heroes who devoted their lives to making America great. If, like most Americans, school taught you little about environmental history, Stone’s story is warm and fuzzy, a pleasant tale of courage, progress, and wealth creation. Fairchild became a celebrity, and hung out with the rich and famous.One of the biggest eco-catastrophes caused by imported plants was the chestnut blight. Fairchild, Marlatt, and Meyer were fully aware of it. It was first noticed on American chestnut trees at the Bronx Zoo in 1904. At that time, chestnuts were a canopy species in 8.8 million acres (3.5 million ha) of eastern forest. The trees were called “the redwoods of the east.” Some grew to 150 feet (46 m) high, having trunks up to 17 feet (5 m) in diameter, and a canopy 100 feet wide.Every year, mature trees dropped an abundance of nuts, food for squirrels, wild turkeys, deer, bears, raccoons, and grouse. The wood was rot resistant, easily split, did not warp or shrink, and was useful in many ways. Both the Indians, and the hill people who followed them depended on these trees. Hillbillies could raise free-range hogs in the forest commons at no cost, and fill their smokehouses with chestnut flavored pork. Cartloads of nuts were hauled to town and sold for cash, “shoe money."Spores of the blight fungus were transported by birds, mammals, insects, and breezes. As the contagion got rolling, it could spread as far as 50 miles (80 km) per year. The blight damaged the inner bark, blocking the flow of water and nutrients to the tree above ground. Within 40 years, the American chestnut was a threatened species. Four billion trees died. The wildlife disappeared, and many hill people had to abandon their subsistence way of life.* One reported, “Man, I had the awfulest feeling about that as a child, to look back yonder and see those trees dying; I thought the whole world was going to die.”In 1904, nobody knew if the fungus was native or imported. Meyer identified the source of the fungus when he found infected chestnut trees in China in 1913, and Japan in 1915. He noted that these trees rarely died from the blight, and some were very resistant. The food explorer lads did send back some chestnut seeds and cuttings over the years, but they weren’t the first. In her essay on the introduction of the blight, Sandra L. Anagnostakis** noted that nurseries were importing Japanese chestnuts as early as 1876. Many seedlings were sold by mail order long before 1904.Marlatt argued that the blight could have been prevented if the federal government had wisely quarantined and inspected all imported plants. Fairchild though this was a ridiculous idea, impeding the speed of progress for no good reason. Marlatt eventually won. Congress passed the Plant Quarantine Act in 1912, and inspections were the domain of the Federal Agricultural Board, which Marlatt controlled.Stone devoted about four sentences to the chestnut blight catastrophe. In Stone’s account, Fairchild dismissed the blight as a triumph of progress — an existing vulnerability had been eliminated by importing the superior blight resistant chestnuts from Asia. Hooray! Fairchild wrote a different version of this story in his 1938 book, The World Was My Garden. When he eventually comprehended the incredible devastation, he was stunned. He wrote, “I regretted any feelings of impatience I may have had towards their quarantines and inspections.”As we chaotically plunge into the twenty-first century, with seven-point-something billion humans furiously beating the stuffing out of the planet’s ecosystems, all the red idiot lights on the dashboard are flashing. At the same time, the vast majority of consumers seem to believe that perpetual growth is both possible and desirable, life as we know it won’t get blindsided by the end of the fossil fuel era, and wizards will find a way to feed eleven billion. I’m beginning to wonder if it might be wise to devote a little time to sniffing reality’s butt.It took thousands of years for Old World cultures to develop the skills and technology needed to obliterate their wild ecosystems. By the time these folks washed up on the shores of America, they were fire-breathing masters of the art of destruction. Uninvited immigrants colonized a vast continent and threw open the floodgates to legions of biological nightmares. Environmental history is loaded with horror stories caused by primate travelers — potato blight, anthrax, Dutch elm disease, white-nose fungus, bubonic plague, smallpox, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, influenza, HIV, and countless others.The tallgrass prairie and much forest land has now been stripped of indigenous life, plowed, and planted with sprawling monocultures of genetic clones — absolutely perfect paradises for pests and pathogens. Here comes the sprayers. Here comes the tumors. There goes the topsoil. The parade marches on. Hooray!* Historical Significance of American Chestnut by Donald E. Davis** Chestnuts and the Introduction of Chestnut Blight by Sandra L. Anagnostakis
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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    Just about every time you eat a fruit, vegetable or just something exciting that came from the earth, not was killed for you or by you, you have David Fairchild to thank. And no one even knows about him or at least not enough and I’m so glad there’s now this book to educate and finally give credit where credit’s due. For any discriminate palate, every vegetarian, anyone who likes or loves food, David Fairchild is The Man. Tirelessly traveling the globe and collecting fruits and vegetables (and t Just about every time you eat a fruit, vegetable or just something exciting that came from the earth, not was killed for you or by you, you have David Fairchild to thank. And no one even knows about him or at least not enough and I’m so glad there’s now this book to educate and finally give credit where credit’s due. For any discriminate palate, every vegetarian, anyone who likes or loves food, David Fairchild is The Man. Tirelessly traveling the globe and collecting fruits and vegetables (and these will actually be redefined for you by this book too) and plants to liven, broaden and expand America’s palate. He wasn’t the only one, but he was the initiator, the man with the idea and later a plan, who set it all in motion. Nowadays it wouldn’t work, of course, we’ve discovered much of what is out there to eat, did some food based math…how difficult is it to cultivate/how well will it be liked…and got a variety. But back in the day, late 19th/early 20th century, the market was begging for some diversity. Just like America was built on immigrants (the fact so often conveniently forgotten), American diets were built on and dramatically improved by delicious exports from all over the world. Otherwise it would just be meat and some local crops, how’s that for a fad diet? Nutrition and vitamin depleted blandness permeated kitchens and dining tables across the US and David Fairchild changed it. It’s pretty awesome to think about. Avocados, kale, citruses…so many tasty lovely things, most in fact except for his beloved mangosteen, have become such supermarket essentials it’s difficult to imagine life without them. But there are only here become at one point Fairchild has traveled to the land of their origin, tasted them and brought or shipped them back to the US to be cultivated. Again, awesome. Sure, he’s had some fortunate turns, wealthy improbably named benefactors, propitious marriage (to a daughter of Alexander Graham Bell no less, yes that phone guy), a dedicated protégé (Frank Meyer, more on him later), but what Fairchild was able to accomplish through sheer drive and willpower, the scale of his vision and the work he put into realizing it and his unwavering commitment are simply astounding. USA went through expansion, imperialism, international outreach and then, of course, snapped back into nationalism and xenophobia (like it does), but Fairchild always persevered in his belief that new and exciting things from other countries can only be good for the society. Sure it’s just food, but it’s a pretty poignant worldview for this day and age. What he’s done was quite heroic and I’m glad to have learned his story. Now Frank Meyer was a Dutchman who came to the US and picked up Fairchild’s outbound missions as the back stayed back in Washington to manage the operations. Oh and you know all those lovely cherry blossoms Washington D.C. is known for…Fairchild to thank and a great story. There was quite a serious battle of wills between Fairchild and a former childhood friend now formidable foe who protested further imports citing the dangers to existing crops. Food export and cultivation was a complicated process back in the day, but also a huge industry, consider the fact that almost 50% of the population were farmers comparing to only a few % today. Where Fairchild was devoted, Meyer was a fanatic, he traveled China extensively and (stunningly) a lot of it on foot and eventually the dangers (local war and crime), the privation, the disappointment in the world (this s around WWI) and (probably most crucially) the loneliness and isolation proved too much for him. That was probably the most emotionally devastating part of the book, reading about Meyer’s descent into depression and Fairchild unable to help, not unwilling, but through a difference of mentalities and restricted by the prevalent spirit of get up get going, unable to write the right things in his letters. Meyer is the man behind Meyer’s lemons. There is a joke here somewhere about lemons and lemonade, but none that would be in good taste. The man’s trajectory was a tragic one. Fairchild had more food collectors, but none like that. And eventually the need for it died out, the devastation of The Great War reduced the demand for exotic foods. It boggles the mind to consider the variety, though…once there were something like 409 varieties of tomato being cultivated in the US, now it’s about 79. Boggles the mind to consider that once there was a man who traveled the world trying new foods just to expand the range of what was known. A real explorer. So that’s the book, terrific, absorbing, meticulously researched (seriously about a quarter of it is just dedicated to bibliography and notes), incredibly informative and just very necessary. The version I read was a digital ARC from Dutton, which was challenging…for some reason (copyright paranoia?) all the ff,fi and fl are taken out of the text, imagine the fun, so ist oor is first floor and so on. Different publishers handle ARCs differently, most are perfectly readable, not sure why Dutton chooses to do this to their readers. Also (not sure if it’s because it’s an arc of what) no photos, nothing, just two paltry visual aids. That’s just sad, especially for a book so inclusive. But all that aside, I’m glad to have read it. And you should read it too, it’s only slightly longer than this review. If you did read this entire behemoth of a review though, here are some bon mots from the book to make it worth your while, delight and amuse.To botanist vegetable is any other edible part of the plant that doesn’t contain seeds.In 1893 US Supreme Court ruled tomatoes to be vegetables so they can collect the higher tariffs.4 major original citrus fruits are citrons, pomelos, mandarins and papedas.1893 World’s fair had 2 replicas of Liberty Bell, one made from rolled oats, one from oranges.The word avocado is a derivative of an Aztec word for testicle.Fun, right? The book has tons of these. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
    January 1, 1970
    This was an unexpected gem of a book. It's the story of David Fairchild, an American botanist who traveled the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to find plants and fruits that were unknown in America. He sent cuttings and seeds back home to the U.S. Department of Agriculture so that the specimens could be studied and possibly transplanted and who knows, maybe become popular. And in fact, that happened many times, and explains how we happen to enjoy avocados and kale and quinces and This was an unexpected gem of a book. It's the story of David Fairchild, an American botanist who traveled the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to find plants and fruits that were unknown in America. He sent cuttings and seeds back home to the U.S. Department of Agriculture so that the specimens could be studied and possibly transplanted and who knows, maybe become popular. And in fact, that happened many times, and explains how we happen to enjoy avocados and kale and quinces and mangoes and different varieties of lemons and grains and much more. The story of a botanist does not sound intrinsically fascinating to me, but Fairchild's enthusiasm for plants and for world travel and adventure helped carbonate the story. And his friendship with Barbour Lathrop was the other ingredient that turned The Food Explorer into a story for more audiences than the botanically-minded. He was a wealthy world traveler who befriended Fairchild when Fairchild was on one of his first trips. About twenty years older than Fairchild, Lathrop became a kind of mentor to Fairchild and introduced him to adventure travel. He also funded many of Fairchild's trips before the Department of Agriculture discovered the potential value of Fairchild's contributions. He was also a rather eccentric character who offsets Fairchild's straight arrow nature to good effect in the book.(Thanks to Penguin/Dutton and NetGalley for a digital review copy.)
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  • Alisha
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I am not normally a voracious page-turner of non-fiction, but this one did it for me.This is the true story of David Fairchild, a man who was responsible for immeasurably enriching America's agriculture. Does that sound dull? It's not. If you're like me, you love food. If you're like me, you maybe also consider yourself fairly willing to try new things and food of different ethnicities. BUT, none of us can escape that we are probably pretty complacent about the foods we have grown up with, Wow. I am not normally a voracious page-turner of non-fiction, but this one did it for me.This is the true story of David Fairchild, a man who was responsible for immeasurably enriching America's agriculture. Does that sound dull? It's not. If you're like me, you love food. If you're like me, you maybe also consider yourself fairly willing to try new things and food of different ethnicities. BUT, none of us can escape that we are probably pretty complacent about the foods we have grown up with, the foods we assume "belong" to our people and our lifestyle. These foods somehow seem to just naturally have pride of place on our menu, and that's just the way it is, and they're normal, and everything else, while interesting and maybe delicious, is slightly exotic and "outside."Wrong.When I learned, from this book, how much painstaking work and passion went into importing new plants into America--plants that produce food we now take for granted--I was in awe. When I realized what an absolute lottery of chance it was that certain plants found success in the United States and other plants never quite got a proper opportunity due to accident or poor timing, I was confounded. My exciting, profound takeaway from this book is that there is SO MUCH food out there and given a slight alteration in history or policy, ALL of it could have been MY "normal". If this doesn't change the way you look at food, and enhance your willingness to try all types, then nothing will.This book was extremely well written. Usually when I read non-fiction, I set myself goals of a certain number of pages per time. When I was at about 70% towards the end, I intended to stop for a bit, but I just kept on going. I wanted to know what happened to David Fairchild, to his star explorer Frank Meyer (SO tragic and when I use Meyer lemons from now on I will contemplate his life with the proper gravitas), and to the edge-of-your-seat battle between the plant importers and the pest preventers.This is a tale of a little espionage, a little diplomacy, a little bureaucracy, a little romance, a lot of friendship, and a driving curiosity about the good stuff on the planet. Here are a few choice quotes:"[Fairchild] used to say, 'Never be satisfied with what you know, only with what more you can find out.""Fairchild liked the idea of espionage, but he was as skilled at covert action as he was at ballroom dancing, having done neither.""For a botanist, the first taste of a new plant was like meeting a new person, and recalling it flooded the mind with memories of where it had happened, what the tongue expected, and what it found instead." "Wasn't it strange, Fairchild observed, man's propensity to be satisfied with so little when so much was available?" YES, I think so too!"A glass ceiling could be shattered once; after that, latecomers could only break the pieces into smaller and smaller shards.""His cynicism about people's stubborn tastes had grown strong. "I know there are many people who will shy at the idea of even tasting the leaves of the papaya," Fairchild wrote..."But as they shake their heads they will reach for a cigarette."***I first learned about this book from a Smithsonian podcast called "Side Door," and NetGalley kindly gave me access to a digital review copy.
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  • Alison
    January 1, 1970
    A wonderful story about the life of David Fairchild a botanist, who traveled the world bring back many new crops and plants for North Americans to enjoy.This story along with all of the fascinating people Fairchild knew, and worked with was exceptionally fun to read. So much information, not only about plants but of the people as well, who against many odds brought these plants to North America. How to ship, pack and eventually grow and get people to like what they grew was a constant challenge, A wonderful story about the life of David Fairchild a botanist, who traveled the world bring back many new crops and plants for North Americans to enjoy.This story along with all of the fascinating people Fairchild knew, and worked with was exceptionally fun to read. So much information, not only about plants but of the people as well, who against many odds brought these plants to North America. How to ship, pack and eventually grow and get people to like what they grew was a constant challenge, and just the effort to keep their findings alive for the long journeys back home was fascinating. Today I must say we take what we eat and how simple it is to pick it up at the store for granted. Once you know the challenges the early botanist went through so that we can have this luxury, is quite eye opening.There are so many facts to read about, some of the people were quite eccentric, such as the Dutch agricultural explorer, Frank Meyer (The Meyer Lemon) who was sent by the US Dept of agriculture to Asia many times to search out new plants. He loved plants but he also loved just wandering and was quite often in the midst of real danger.Fairfields long time mentor, Barbour Lathrop an American philanthropist and world traveler, Would cover Fairchilds expenses if he would travel with him around the world. This would benefit both of them, the company and the chance to look for plants as Fairchild himself did not have the money, and who at an early age didn't feel he could sit behind a desk for work. Later on he would marry Marian, daughter of Alexander Graham Bell.This book has a lot of photos I understand, but which I did not see as I received an advanced copy of the book from NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton, Thank you.
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  • Ren
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5. Tons of interesting information and mostly well-written, just dragged a little in some parts. I learned so much though, this book is an education in and of itself.
  • Abby
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent story of how so much of our food came to be accessible to us - through the dedication of several men committed to exploring the diverse world of plants. I really enjoyed this, especially toward the end. How lucky we are for David Fairchild and his colleagues!
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  • Sarah Rosenberger
    January 1, 1970
    I was looking forward to this book for months, but just didn't end up loving Stone's writing style or his audiobook narration. I also think I was hoping for more about the early Columbian Exchange, because it seemed like half the time a new fruit was discussed, it was like "well, this was technically already growing in the US, but Fairchild introduced a hardier, more popular variety." I might have liked it more if I went into it without any expectations.
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  • Nicholas Bobbitt
    January 1, 1970
    While this is an intriguing story, I don't know that Stone does it justice with his writing.
  • Moti
    January 1, 1970
    "Voices as pointed as their hats"??? What does that even mean?Who founded the Red Cross? - it wasn't Clara Barton.People in Australia celebrate with pies, curry and lamb chops??In 1897 Australia wasn't federated so there was no Australian Department of Agriculture. I assume he meant New South Wales."Developing governments, especially those, like Australia, endowed with money from a foreign crown..." What? What money from a foreign crown? In 1897 NSW and the other colonies were self governing and "Voices as pointed as their hats"??? What does that even mean?Who founded the Red Cross? - it wasn't Clara Barton.People in Australia celebrate with pies, curry and lamb chops??In 1897 Australia wasn't federated so there was no Australian Department of Agriculture. I assume he meant New South Wales."Developing governments, especially those, like Australia, endowed with money from a foreign crown..." What? What money from a foreign crown? In 1897 NSW and the other colonies were self governing and raised their own revenue.More attention to detail or a good editor would have improved this book.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    Informative and fascinating. I grew up a mile from David Fairchild’s estate, “In the Woods,” in North Chevy Chase and had not heard of him or the estate. If you enjoy stories of English eccentric explorers then you will enjoy this tale of American plant nerds and eccentrics. Although the book is about Fairchild and his stewardship of food exploration we meet many interesting characters who deserve books in their own right: foremost among them being Frank Meyer for whom the lemon is named; Barbou Informative and fascinating. I grew up a mile from David Fairchild’s estate, “In the Woods,” in North Chevy Chase and had not heard of him or the estate. If you enjoy stories of English eccentric explorers then you will enjoy this tale of American plant nerds and eccentrics. Although the book is about Fairchild and his stewardship of food exploration we meet many interesting characters who deserve books in their own right: foremost among them being Frank Meyer for whom the lemon is named; Barbour Lathrop, a millionaire who accompanied Fairchild and bankrolled Fairchild’s expeditions in a unique private citizen/government relationship; James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture for 16 years through four presidents; and Charles Marlatt, a government entomologist and friend of Fairchild turned nemesis.Chapter 19’s title could describe current events- “Sad and Mad and So Utterly Unnecessary.” Fairchild had transformed the Department of Agriculture with his collection of food/plant species. The US penchant for leading the world and being the best included agriculture and plant imperialism was the strategy. The US embraced the world but it also began to embrace xenophobia. Much like the exclusion of Asian immigrants it turned inward with fear of invasive insects which could destroy all the crops we had “stolen” from the world. This unwarranted hysteria and fear campaign was led by Marlatt, another government scientist. It led to legislation which quarantined Fairchild and his team’s shipments.It’s sad in this age of the foodie we don’t know more about these pioneers in food exploration. We owe so much to them.
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  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    I don't think I could dream up a premise for a non-fiction book i would like more. Botany? Food? 20th century exploration? There were agricultural explorers??! Sure, there were some creepy colonial dynamics but really what could be cooler than getting to travel around and learn all about what types of plant people grew and ate? And the book is full of interesting gems - i had no idea that when the Japanese first shipped us the cherry trees to line the tidal basin they were found to be full of ag I don't think I could dream up a premise for a non-fiction book i would like more. Botany? Food? 20th century exploration? There were agricultural explorers??! Sure, there were some creepy colonial dynamics but really what could be cooler than getting to travel around and learn all about what types of plant people grew and ate? And the book is full of interesting gems - i had no idea that when the Japanese first shipped us the cherry trees to line the tidal basin they were found to be full of agricultural pests and burned in a giant bonfire, but rather than be affronted the Japanese government was mortified by the low quality of their gift and sent an entirely new shipment, which was then planted. Just as i finished this, the National Arboretum newsletter had an essay about Fairchild, apparently many of the species he introduced to the US ended up in their collection, which is fun. The main story centers on Fairchild, but I was also fascinated by his protogee-of-sorts, Frank Meyer (Meyer lemon!), who took on exploration duties after Fairchild settled down to have a family, and apparently walked across most of China and Mongolia in the process - i'd love to find a biography about him. The writing here isn't always great, but overall the story is well told. I'm so pleased to have found this book, thanks NPR :)
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  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    January 1, 1970
    This book was almost everything I look for in narrative nonfiction. The author took an off-beat topic and turned it into a good story. I enjoyed reading it and learning about a new-to-me part of history. My only complaint is that it didn’t have any particularly exciting or memorable moments. I never felt Fairchild was in danger. There was no adventure or suspense. There also could have been more exciting fun facts. The only one that stuck with me is that ‘wasabi’ in the US is almost always actua This book was almost everything I look for in narrative nonfiction. The author took an off-beat topic and turned it into a good story. I enjoyed reading it and learning about a new-to-me part of history. My only complaint is that it didn’t have any particularly exciting or memorable moments. I never felt Fairchild was in danger. There was no adventure or suspense. There also could have been more exciting fun facts. The only one that stuck with me is that ‘wasabi’ in the US is almost always actually dyed horseradish. As with many other books, I feel like even a small flaw can take a lot of time to dissect. Even without high adventure, this was an interesting story and one I’d recommend. It just wasn’t such a stand out I’m going to push it on you 🙂This review first published at Doing Dewey.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting.
  • Angie Boyter
    January 1, 1970
    Meals must have been pretty dull in the nineteenth century. My high-school history class made a big deal of the scenes where Native Americans introduced European settlers to maize, but no one told us how many foods we take for granted today were not found in North America until someone began importing them for farmers to grow locally. Without major efforts to introduce them to American farms we would not have items like asparagus, bananas, or even apples and onions.The Food Explorer tells the ad Meals must have been pretty dull in the nineteenth century. My high-school history class made a big deal of the scenes where Native Americans introduced European settlers to maize, but no one told us how many foods we take for granted today were not found in North America until someone began importing them for farmers to grow locally. Without major efforts to introduce them to American farms we would not have items like asparagus, bananas, or even apples and onions.The Food Explorer tells the adventures of David Fairchild, who traveled the globe numerous times beginning in 1894 searching for new or improved plants to benefit American farmers and consumers. And they WERE adventures. Beyond the obvious perils of world travel at that period, including disease (Fairchild’s companion Lathrop caught yellow fever on one of their trips.), not all countries were eager to lose a possible competitive advantage by having their local crops grown by American farmers. Sometimes Fairchild was essentially engaged in espionage and had to smuggle his finds back to the United States.Fairchild’s quest to broaden the scope of American agriculture was a personal one, but, not being a wealthy man, he needed sponsorship. During many of his trips he was sponsored by or was an employee of the US Department of Agriculture, but as political winds shifted, so did their interest, and Fairchild’s funding waxed and waned. In one episode the Secretary of Agriculture sent him to Corsica and then after he arrived refused to send him the money to do the job! Fortunately Fairchild had a benefactor in the person of Barbour Lathrop, a highly idiosyncratic character with a love of travel and a need for companionship and whose deep pockets helped compensate for his testy personality.In addition to Fairchild’s story, there is a lot of interesting lore in the book, such as how to solve the challenge of getting collected specimens back to Washington safely, e.g., by sticking cuttings into the starchy centers of potatoes. I also learned that, although the tomato is a biologically a fruit, the Supreme Court in 1893 declared them to be a vegetable in order to collect higher tariffs on them. And if you enjoy eating French fries, thank Thomas Jefferson, who first served them in the White House in 1799.Although Fairchild is definitely the hero of the book, there is plenty of background to provide the context in which he was able to do his work. New big companies in the late nineteenth century such as Kellogg’s introduced exciting products like chocolate milk and whetted the American appetite for other new foods, and events like the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 introduced more than just the Ferris wheel. The importance of agriculture to the economy made agricultural policies even more of a political football than it is today, and congressman would distribute largesse in the form of seeds.David Fairchild was not the only zealous food explorer who opened America to the broader world of food, but his story is an inspiring example of what one man can do with determination, grit, and some serendipity. It is a fascinating read.NOTE: My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for an advance review copy of this book.
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  • GONZA
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoy the story of David Fairchild a lot and the author was able to describe his life and epic travels in a very interesting way. More an adventure book than a biography, Highly recomendable. La storia del botanico David Fairchild mi é piaciuta parecchio e l'aútore é stato in grado di descrivere la sua vita e i suoi viaggi complicatissimi (ai tempi) in modo da scrivere piú un libro di avventure che una biografia. Da leggere!THANKS TO EDELWEISS FOR THE ARC!
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  • Feiroz Humayara
    January 1, 1970
    This biography of David Fairchild, the nineteenth century adventurer-botanist, narrates the story of his travels across the latitudes and back again in search of plants that went on to revolutionise how and what America eats. Needless to say, me being both a foodie and someone interested in plant genetics, this book had my full attention just by reading the synopsis.One does not usually think that a scientist could have made America into the diverse culinary hub it is today but that is what came This biography of David Fairchild, the nineteenth century adventurer-botanist, narrates the story of his travels across the latitudes and back again in search of plants that went on to revolutionise how and what America eats. Needless to say, me being both a foodie and someone interested in plant genetics, this book had my full attention just by reading the synopsis.One does not usually think that a scientist could have made America into the diverse culinary hub it is today but that is what came to light when Daniel Stone stumbled upon a map showing showing where the popular foods were domesticated while researching an article for National Geographic. It transpired that this plethora of crops arrived in America the same way immigrants did. He dug deep into the life of Fairchild and showed us his journey from a young enthusiastic scientist who was inspired by Alfred Russel Wallace’s The Malay Archipelago to being the hard working traveller who sent the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeds and cuttings of every unique plant he could find.The book ventures into various aspects of Fairchild’s life including his encounters with historical figures like Alexander Graham Bell (with who he had a personal relationship), George Washington Carver and Theodore Roosevelt. The part which mostly concentrated on his personal life was where we see his courtship of the daughter of the famous inventor and the brief glimpses into his married life, showing us his transformation from an ambitious adventurer into a family man. The remarkable development of friendship between Fairchild and Barbour Lathorp who was his constant companion and an integral ally in making everything possible. Thanks to Fairchild, now we have the avocado on our toasts and the mango in our smoothies and numerous other superfoods. His visit to India surely made the Americans able to access the king of all fruits, our amazing mangoes (you’re welcome world). Before him, America only ate to survive but not to savour.If I were to mention my favorite parts of the book, the close-up encounter with cannibalism in the Islands of Fiji would be sure to take the cake but I was intrigued by Fairchild’s visit to Hawaii where he feels that even though America fought for freedom from colonialists, it had somehow started being one itself, imposing and invading where they were not welcome. This impressed me because writing a book about a white man domesticating native elements from all corners of the globe while respecting their boundaries and their culture is splendid. The book also shows the struggles of the American farmers due to America’s expansion and reconstruction which undermined and destabilized farming.A intricately winding novel that would be loved by the scientists, foodies, adventure lovers and history buffs all the same, this was enlightening to say the least.Thank you Penguin Randomhouse and Dutton Books for sending me the physical ARC and Net-Galley for the digital ARC as well.
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  • Dan Russell
    January 1, 1970
    Here is the story of David Fairchild, a Victorian gentleman who had an urge for adventure, and accidentally met up with Barbour Lathrop, a rich Victorian gentleman with a wanderlust and a need to be recognized. Together, with Lathrop funding Fairchild and providing encouragement (along a never-ending need to be idolized), they went around the world in search of new crops for American farmers to grow for market. Most surprisingly, Fairchild found plants that we take for granted. It was Fairchild Here is the story of David Fairchild, a Victorian gentleman who had an urge for adventure, and accidentally met up with Barbour Lathrop, a rich Victorian gentleman with a wanderlust and a need to be recognized. Together, with Lathrop funding Fairchild and providing encouragement (along a never-ending need to be idolized), they went around the world in search of new crops for American farmers to grow for market. Most surprisingly, Fairchild found plants that we take for granted. It was Fairchild that brought the first avocados and modern watermelons to the US. He introduced cashews and dates to the US agricultural market, red seedless grapes, and the Meyer lemon. (Although the Meyer lemon, named for his colleague Frank Meyer, has its own story. Meyer was a bit of a lunatic himself, spending years traipsing through China in search of better crops, sending back tons of new flowers, ornamental plants, and fruits.) The author tells a great tale, but plays a _little_ loose with his estimation of Fairchild's impact. His effect on the Department of Agriculture was important (and a story worth telling), but you have to be careful in reading about the plant introduction stories. Watermelon, for instance, has been known for a long, long time. (Look at any of a thousand fruit still lifes from the great European painters of the 18th century. Watermelons, peaches, citrons, etc. all show up in abundance. But the subtitle of this book is correct: ".... who transformed what America eats." These plants were eaten all over the world, just not in the US. The Fairchild Tropical Botanical garden (Coral Gables, FL) is Fairchild's great legacy. For a sense of scientific and botanical adventure, this is the book to read. Even if “botanical” and “adventure” don’t often appear in the same sentence, this book will convince you otherwise.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting and something I hadn’t considered before. I guess I knew fruit came from foreign places but I had no idea a man (or eventually men) explored and brought them to the US. It seems a bit sinister that he might have been stealing them...and his nemesis, the Entomologist—Marlatt, made a great point about the practice of bringing new plants also brought the possibility of pests and fungal & bacterial blights to the US. I would have liked to know more about how the plants were intr Very interesting and something I hadn’t considered before. I guess I knew fruit came from foreign places but I had no idea a man (or eventually men) explored and brought them to the US. It seems a bit sinister that he might have been stealing them...and his nemesis, the Entomologist—Marlatt, made a great point about the practice of bringing new plants also brought the possibility of pests and fungal & bacterial blights to the US. I would have liked to know more about how the plants were introduced to farmers and how they were modified to what we have available now and of the problems that pests and disease from other countries brought...but alas, that wasn’t Fairchild’s story. While Fairchild’s story was interesting, I found it hard to believe that Lathrop was just a friend...when it was heavily hinted he “preferred men’s company” and frequently traveled to avoid falling into a situation that would bring speculation. Especially how Lathrop covered ALL his expenses—even salary, how close they were and continued to be years after they stopped traveling together, how they both nursed each other back to health during extreme illnesses during travel and that Lathrop never found another traveling companion once Fairchild settled down. Buuuut that could just be me reading too much between the lines in the author’s writing...? 🤔
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  • Lily
    January 1, 1970
    I always enjoy reading about history; and this book especially hit another one of my interests--food. I had never really thought that much about how different plants were introduced to the United States. Thanks to David Fairchild, we now have an abundance of delectable and healthy food and decorative plants. He (and those men that he shepherded after his travels) found the plants when he traveled around the world. This was during the early 1900's when travel was not that fast or dependable, and I always enjoy reading about history; and this book especially hit another one of my interests--food. I had never really thought that much about how different plants were introduced to the United States. Thanks to David Fairchild, we now have an abundance of delectable and healthy food and decorative plants. He (and those men that he shepherded after his travels) found the plants when he traveled around the world. This was during the early 1900's when travel was not that fast or dependable, and war broke out causing difficulties beyond normal. He had a great benefactor, Barbour Lathrop, who funded most of his travels (also accompanying him on most). There were some really interesting characters and situations featured in the story, which made the reading enjoyable. The men who came after Fairchild, especially Frank Meyer, faced worse obstacles, diseases, and native repercussions. The explorers also faced political backlash and jealousies that caused some of the plant discoveries to either become lost or ruined. One good thing that was instituted, even though possibly for nefarious reasons, was the quarantine of plants until they could be checked for diseases--including insect infestations and blight.
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  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    As an avid "plant-o-phile," I enjoyed this book. I grow a number of "exotic" fruits and plants that David Fairchild found or introduced to the U.S. I've also visited Fairchild Gardens in Florida a number of times without knowing that much about the man who's garden bears his name. Fairchild lived during the "golden age" of plant exploration—tales of harrowing adventures in steamy, dangerous, tropical forests in search of the next rare plant. I do have one question and peeve: while Fairchild was As an avid "plant-o-phile," I enjoyed this book. I grow a number of "exotic" fruits and plants that David Fairchild found or introduced to the U.S. I've also visited Fairchild Gardens in Florida a number of times without knowing that much about the man who's garden bears his name. Fairchild lived during the "golden age" of plant exploration—tales of harrowing adventures in steamy, dangerous, tropical forests in search of the next rare plant. I do have one question and peeve: while Fairchild was in China, he had "chop suey" for dinner. Chop Suey is an American invention and not eaten in mainland China (nor Taiwan or Formosa known back then). So this, I felt, was a lack of good historical research or a lazy approach to how non-Asians view Asian food (another would be to call Asians, "orientals." Also, some of the scientific latin names or correct taxonomy associated with the plants described in the book by the author seemed wrong. Yes, I know this book is meant for the casual reader who wants to know the exploits of Fairchild (and his bond with Lathrop) more so than plants, but "little omissions" in a non-fiction book are a bit annoying, particularly a book on science and history.
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  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    I should have enjoyed this;I wanted to, but couldn't.The narrative pace didn't appeal to me. It would jump ahead to tell part of the story in depth, then revert back in time just to slog along trying to catch up before repeating the cycle again. I also felt there were too many side stories. Fairchild's work is interesting enough, touching on many political, ethical, and ecological issues, why do I care about the life of his wealthy benefactor? Jumping ahead trying to keep interest, it seems that I should have enjoyed this;I wanted to, but couldn't.The narrative pace didn't appeal to me. It would jump ahead to tell part of the story in depth, then revert back in time just to slog along trying to catch up before repeating the cycle again. I also felt there were too many side stories. Fairchild's work is interesting enough, touching on many political, ethical, and ecological issues, why do I care about the life of his wealthy benefactor? Jumping ahead trying to keep interest, it seems that some of the downsides of uprooting plants and sending them across the globe are completely ignored. While Fairchild was opposed to plant quarantines and bans (and this is part of his story and some of his arguments are still quite relevant) the author glosses over chestnut blight in a few sentences. Surely one of N. America's greatest ecological disasters which killed 25% of this continent's forest canopy deserves more attention. Especially because it was a result of an introduced disease from foreign plants. Ultimately the true story of a Kansas native who traveled the world in search of exotic plants and food and left a complex legacy is interesting and a reflection on food and imperialism; however I felt the author didn't do it justice.
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  • Jon Letman
    January 1, 1970
    This is delicious book will hold great appeal to anyone who likes food, plants, or travel. Whether you are familiar with the legacy of America's premiere post-Civil war plant collector David Fairchild or have never heard of him, you're sure to savor this new account of his remarkable life and legacy. Daniel Stone has penned an irresistible, quick-moving account of Fairchild's unusual journey from Kansas farmlands to the jungles of Indo-Malaya to Mediterranean gardens, Egyptian cotton fields, an This is delicious book will hold great appeal to anyone who likes food, plants, or travel. Whether you are familiar with the legacy of America's premiere post-Civil war plant collector David Fairchild or have never heard of him, you're sure to savor this new account of his remarkable life and legacy. Daniel Stone has penned an irresistible, quick-moving account of Fairchild's unusual journey from Kansas farmlands to the jungles of Indo-Malaya to Mediterranean gardens, Egyptian cotton fields, and remote villages and hamlets on every continent save Antarctica. Like a well-planned feast, Stone blends travel adventure, history, botany and horticulture with just enough politics of the day (last 19th/early 20th centuries) to leave you feeling better informed and deeply engaged in the story of how Fairchild steered the American palate from mundane to miraculous in an age of extraordinary transformation. Order The Food Explorer now and prepare to dig in, for this is one literary treat you shouldn't miss.
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  • Kaleb Hargous
    January 1, 1970
    This purchase for me started off as a must because I loved the idea of traveling with this compelling character who experienced the world in a way I’ve always dreamed of doing.By the end, I was confident in cutting out red meat and living off of fruits and vegetables. By the end, I purchased plants and became increasingly interested in propagating and creating a garden of my own based purely off taking samples from other successful trees. By the end, I was navigating the world through Google Map This purchase for me started off as a must because I loved the idea of traveling with this compelling character who experienced the world in a way I’ve always dreamed of doing.By the end, I was confident in cutting out red meat and living off of fruits and vegetables. By the end, I purchased plants and became increasingly interested in propagating and creating a garden of my own based purely off taking samples from other successful trees. By the end, I was navigating the world through Google Maps as I remembered where each flower, fruit, and vegetable came from.This book will definitely take a second read some day because it’s jam packed full of politics, American and World History, botany tips, and so much more but I can’t wait to hand it over to my friends to read in the meantime.I loved it and I think you would too, you being whoever is reading this review.David Fairchild, Frank Meyers, and Marian Fairchild are American Heroes.
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  • Britt, Book Habitue
    January 1, 1970
    Let me start by saying I read a digital ARC (which isn't my preference but it was what was available).The digital ARC had MAJOR formatting issues (for example anywhere you had "ff" or "fi" or "fl" in a word those letters simply weren't present.... sometimes there was a space where they should go and othertimes not) that HOPEFULLY will not be present in any finished copy.Also, I'm desperately hoping that the meandering of the text and the sudden jumps in topic are at least partly due to the forma Let me start by saying I read a digital ARC (which isn't my preference but it was what was available).The digital ARC had MAJOR formatting issues (for example anywhere you had "ff" or "fi" or "fl" in a word those letters simply weren't present.... sometimes there was a space where they should go and othertimes not) that HOPEFULLY will not be present in any finished copy.Also, I'm desperately hoping that the meandering of the text and the sudden jumps in topic are at least partly due to the formatting issues.Because wow meandering. You don't necessarily mind... because it's mostly interesting... but it's a bit of a jolt to be brought back to Fairchild and remember "oh yeah! THAT'S what this book's supposed to be about".I do wish some of the modern moralizing had been slashed by a good editor. That and the level of meandering are what lost it a star.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    3.75 starsThis is basically the history of how most of the food and useful plants came to america. Told like a story this book follows David Fairchild as he traveled around the world and discovered and brought seed of exotic food to America. In essence this is the history of today's every day food like the Cavendish banana, cotton, mango, lemon and other foods that you don't see today as they never had a big market appeal. It also tells the history agriculture in the united states. I found it ve 3.75 starsThis is basically the history of how most of the food and useful plants came to america. Told like a story this book follows David Fairchild as he traveled around the world and discovered and brought seed of exotic food to America. In essence this is the history of today's every day food like the Cavendish banana, cotton, mango, lemon and other foods that you don't see today as they never had a big market appeal. It also tells the history agriculture in the united states. I found it very interesting and even fun to listen to. The pacing was great in the beginning and end but the middle got a little slow and fact heavy and read more like a textbook than a story. Once I got through that part it picked up again and I enjoyed the rest. For those of you out there that love plants and history, this book is for you.
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  • Abby
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting read. This book is about David Fairchild who helped introduced thousands of plants to the U.S.. He traveled and collected cuttings and seeds to transform America's farming and agriculture industries, especially with being a major force behind the inception of the USDA. I certainly don't think much about how the food I consume got to my plate, let along what country it originated from, and how it was brought to America. Since Fairchild's time, variety of plants have diminished. Ones s Interesting read. This book is about David Fairchild who helped introduced thousands of plants to the U.S.. He traveled and collected cuttings and seeds to transform America's farming and agriculture industries, especially with being a major force behind the inception of the USDA. I certainly don't think much about how the food I consume got to my plate, let along what country it originated from, and how it was brought to America. Since Fairchild's time, variety of plants have diminished. Ones suitable for consumption were kept, others were left behind to disappear, and since, many have been engineered to be easier to produce. Food and food culture has certainly come a long way.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Daniel Stone knows how to tell a story, and his account of the now-obscure USDA botanist David Fairchild reads with more zip and contains more adventures than most novels. Stone approaches the story from a few angles, but one of the most interesting (made obvious while not explicitly stated) shows how the early 19th century debate over plant importation is mirrored in today's anxieties over globalization. This is a fantastic read for foodies, travel enthusiasts yearning for an age when exotic tr Daniel Stone knows how to tell a story, and his account of the now-obscure USDA botanist David Fairchild reads with more zip and contains more adventures than most novels. Stone approaches the story from a few angles, but one of the most interesting (made obvious while not explicitly stated) shows how the early 19th century debate over plant importation is mirrored in today's anxieties over globalization. This is a fantastic read for foodies, travel enthusiasts yearning for an age when exotic travel was truly exotic, and adventure lovers. You did not know you were interested in this subject, but fortunately Daniel Stone had an inkling you would be.
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