Love Your Avocado Toast? You Have This Man to Thank.

Love Your Avocado Toast? You Have This Man to Thank

Meet David Fairchild.

David-FairchildPhoto from The New Tropic

If you don’t know him, you’re about to feel very thankful towards this man… well, his memory. He died in 1954. 

David Fairchild was a world-traveling botanist who single-handedly changed the way Americans eat. 

How exactly? 

Thanks to him, we enjoy more than 200,000 exotic plants and varieties of crops that he smuggled into the U.S.

Fairchild worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was only 22 years old when he created the Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction of the USDA. After that, he traveled far and wide in search of useful plants to bring back home. For 37 years! And that too, by boat. He traveled to 50+ countries—back in the day, this was unheard of. Most people never left the country. In fact, the only continent he didn’t visit was Antarctica.

Fairchild basically spent his life convincing farmers to give him their native seeds or cuttings to sneak back. He was even arrested on suspicion of being a spy once. In a way, he was an American food spy.

What did he bring back?

Flickr: USDAPhoto from Flickr: USDA 

He actually brought more than just food crops to the U.S. Really into 100% cotton t-shirts? It was Fairchild who snuck cotton in. Those famous Japanese cherry trees lining Washington D.C.’s National Mall? You have Fairchild to thank! Love American beer? Well, it’s not entirely American… because he made a deal with some Germans to bring back special hops. Hops so great that these German beer brewers had dogs guarding the fields at night. 

You’d be amazed at how many common crops in our daily diets and lives we take for granted, thanks to Fairchild. Here’s just a brief list of the many plants he brought to the U.S.: avocados, kale, bamboo, pistachios, pineapples, cotton, dates, mangos, quinoa, red seedless grapes, and soybeans.

At EAT Club, we’re especially grateful to David Fairchild. He smuggled in many of our known ingredients. Thanks to him, the dishes we curate for you to enjoy have roots in many diverse countries. Without his efforts, we wouldn’t be able to serve up the variety of food that we do. Fairchild truly changed the way Americans eat. It’s as if we can travel to other countries through the foods that he introduced. Just our food alone shows that cultural exchanges enhance everyone’s experiences… and in this case, taste buds.