He got arrested, caught diseases, and bargained with island tribes. He brought back avocados, mangoes, seedless grapes, and hundreds of fruits and vegetables that would forever change what Americans eat.
The Food Explorer is the story of David Fairchild, a late-19th-century food explorer traveling the world as a special agent of the American government. He visited more than fifty countries, all by boat, in search of foods that would enrich the American farmer and enchant the American eater.
His work came during a formative era. The golden age of travel, the Gilded Age, and the rise of industrial America. The cusp of the 20th century brought the ground-breaking innovation of telephones, electric light, and airplanes that could fly through the sky. Fairchild’s culinary ambition came as the United States was opening itself to the world with the bombast of imperialism. And through him, America transformed from a blank agricultural canvas to the most diverse food system ever created.
From writer Daniel Stone comes Fairchild’s story and the story of a nation newly emboldened to collect new things—most exciting among them, new foods. Fairchild was the first American foodie, the father of globalized agriculture, and, in an era of transformative inventors and political leaders, he was a culinary visionary whose country, because of his work, would never be the same.