Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Fruits of Eden: David Fairchild and America's Plant Hunters

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Fruits of Eden: David Fairchild and America's Plant Hunters

Article excerpt

Amanda Harris. Fruits of Eden: David Fairchild and America's Plant Hunters. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015.304pp. ISBN: 978-0-8130-6061-3. $24.95.

This is a curious study about the history of David Grandison Fairchild's work to bring in foreign fruits and vegetables into the American diet and agriculture. Harris reports that this quest started "as a New Year's Resolution" in 1897, and progressed for three decades, before xenophobia and "international warfare" put a stop to the U.S. government's investments in Fairchild's research in this field (1). Harris explains that Fairchild was responsible for introducing now common foods like navel oranges, Meyer lemons, honeydew melons, soybeans and avocados. Imagining an American grocery store without oranges and melons is certainly a difficult concept. The story begins earlier, as a biography of Fairchild's youths and the forces that developed his interest in horticulture.

Since Fairchild ventured across the world on his "odyssey," the book is an adventure travel story, and should be of interest to anybody that enjoys learning about the development of a genius and his fantastic travels and research. In some ways, it is a better read than a novel because it offers exact facts, and curious details that help the reader to really visualize what it must have been like for Fairchild to take on the goals he set for himself and for America. …

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