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The Food Explorer: The True Adventures of the Globe-trotting Botanist who Transformed What America Eats

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by Daniel Stone
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The oranges that Florida is so famous for? From China. The bananas, so ubiquitous to American produce shelves? New Guinea. Apples? Kazakhstan. And so on… Not only are we a nation of immigrants, our food has also been transported from the far reaches of the world. But how? Many of our favorite fruits—including avocados, peaches, nectarines, and mangoes—began their journey with the intrepid explorations of one young botanist, David Fairchild, and his mentor Barbour Lathrop.

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 adventures came during a formative era, and partly through his efforts, America developed a diverse food system that was unimaginable to Fairchild’s contemporaries.

Author Daniel Stone is a staff writer for National Geographic and a former White House correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Like the late Waverly Root, he sometimes seems more interested in a vivid story than in exacting research, so The Food Explorer should not be taken as the final word on its subject.

Paperback. Some black and white photo reproductions throughout. Inset with 8 full color images of botanical watercolors commissioned by the US between 1899-1919 representing fruits introduced by Fairchild.

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