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. From Egypt came a variety of cotton that revolutionized an industry, and via Japan the cherry blossom tree, forever brightening America’s capital.
Along the way, Fairchild was arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. America was transformed into the most diverse food system ever created.
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