The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-Trotting Botanist Who Transformed What America Eats

Daniel Stone. Dutton, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-101-99058-2
Journalist Stone tracks the journeys of botanist David Fairchild (1869–1954), who changed American eating habits and agricultural practices by introducing a wide array of new crops and varietals. Making extensive use of Fairchild’s notes and writings, Stone elucidates Fairchild’s experiences across the globe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Fairchild’s efforts are responsible for American familiarity with the Hass avocado, the hops that fueled America’s beer makers, and the Egyptian cotton that transformed the desert Southwest, not to mention kale, cherry blossoms, soybeans, dates, and many other items. Stone builds suspense while describing the trials and tribulations associated with global travel of that period. He also investigates the inner working of Washington politics while detailing the battles between Fairchild, who wanted a free hand to import plants to boost the country’s economy, and those who thought that such introductions might do grave damage to native species. Stone also uses some of Fairchild’s experiences to discuss the way colonization was perceived at the onset of the 20th century. Photographs largely taken from the collection of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Fla., enrich the text. Foodies and scientists alike will appreciate Stone’s informative and entertaining book. Illus. Agent: Lauren Sharp, Aevitas Creative. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/13/2017
Release date: 02/20/2018
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