Botanists can’t save the American table

One of the reasons why the popular American variety show “Master Chef” (Master Chef) has been prosperous is that amateur chefs from various states have different skin colors and cultural backgrounds, and they present an interweaving of skills, rules and qualities in the competition. And collisions, one after another “American Feast” that comforts the soul is concocted.

To understand the diversity of American food culture, the diversity of ingredients is an inescapable “threshold”. The American history is short, and the food culture has nothing to rely on. If it weren’t for a “food spy” in the early 20th century, he would bring a wealth of ingredients such as Italian seedless grapes, Croatian kale, Iraqi dates, Chinese peaches, and Chilean avocados. Back to the United States, the American table may still be empty.

The vigorous development of American food culture has benefited from the introduction and rooting of a variety of exotic plants, that is, the tremendous progress of American agriculture, and it is a microcosm of the times when science and technology are changing day by day and the world is getting closer. However, the romantic spirit of adventure is nothing more than a “mask” for colonial temperament; more than a hundred years later, American food has fallen into a stereotype and has become a pluralistic and diverse cultural “torii” in the public domain.

Fresh fruits and vegetables
In 1856, American columnists recorded their daily meals like this: “Drink cereal for breakfast, bread, cheese, beer or fruit wine for lunch, and dinner with broth, salted fish, roast pork and roasted beans; supper is a light pudding. Or milk.” The recipe seems to be rich, but in fact there is a big worry: too much protein, but no fruits and vegetables. It is said that stomach problems caused by indigestion are very common among the people.

David Fairchild became the “first person” to subvert the American table food. He was born in 1869. At that time, there was an “American Family Cookbook” advocating balanced nutrition, but the suggestion was to “add a little parsley when cooking eel”, which shows the lack of ingredients. In 1876, bananas were displayed for the first time at the World’s Fair in Philadelphia. Onlookers were amazed. Moreover, bananas must be wrapped in tin foil, so as not to offend the simple Victorian moral feelings of the viewers because of their appearance.

Fairchild’s dream of “food explorer” originated from the visit of British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace to Kansas. As the principal of Kansas Agricultural College’s father, he immediately seized the opportunity of this reception. Wallace’s wonderful portrayal of the Asian continent and Australian islands made the 10-year-old Fairchild yearn for. At the age of 19, he specialized in botany, and after graduation, he worked as a junior researcher at the Ministry of Agriculture. At that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was fully committed and believed that the right to decide what to grow on the land was in the hands of farmers and officials could not interfere.

In the last 20 years of the 19th century, the competition among farmers was fierce. The production of crops was no longer for basic survival, but a big and profitable business. However, competition has not promoted the diversified development of crops. It is too risky to “beat” neighbors by planting new crops. Joseph Bard, known as “the highest authority in American horticulture”, once introduced some apple varieties from Russia, but the plan failed entirely. Because there is no organization to undertake and train a series of necessary procedures such as planting and pest control, the new apples quickly wither and become rotten. American farmers have always been accustomed to growing corn and cotton, and have no idea how to take care of the delicate apple trees.

After resigning from the Department of Agriculture, Fairchild and his millionaire patron Lethrop discussed with each other that as long as farmers were to figure out how to cultivate and grow fruit trees, then a new era of American agriculture would definitely come. After all, the United States is vast. Florida can grow bananas and California can grow mangoes. The rainy areas in the west are conducive to the growth of avocados. The fertile land in the southeast is enough to make mangosteens huge and delicious.

In 1901, Buffalo, New York hosted the Pan American World Exposition, which symbolized the rise of new food trends. The hall in the center of the exhibition area has two largest exhibition halls, showing the two most proud industries in the United States: electrical industry and agriculture. The Agriculture Exhibition Hall covers an area of ​​75,000 square feet. Above the entrance, there are plaster shapes of newly introduced crops from the United States-grape vines and coconut trees. A series of “novel” foreign fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, broccoli, and new varieties of tomatoes were placed on the booth.

The farmers lingered in front of the booth and raised some concerns from time to time. They took out small pieces of paper to write down the name of the grower so that they could contact for purchase in the future. Reporter Mary Hart wrote in “Popular Magazine”: Traveling around the agricultural exhibition halls “can deepen your trust in the entrepreneurial and advanced nature of American farmers.”

Fairchild and his millionaire patron Lathrop discussed with each other that as long as farmers figure out how to cultivate and grow fruit trees, then a new era of American agriculture will definitely come.
What do Americans want to eat? Fairchild and Lathrop had the answer in their hearts. They began to travel around the world, to Sumatra, Australia, Fiji, Hawaii and other Pacific Rim regions to collect plant species. Later, I went to South America, India and Africa together. In fact, the introduction of plants is by no means as simple as cutting a branch and returning to China for cutting, and most of the introductions are not considered successful. For example, the water chestnuts imported from Guangdong, China have not succeeded in becoming American dishes.

However, Fairchild’s life achievements are still eye-catching: imported avocados from Chile, Egyptian cotton from Egypt, Semsch hops found in Germany, kale from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and kale from Saigon. A variety of tropical fruits such as mangos and mangosteen.

The Expo has contributed to strengthening the American people’s enthusiasm for new crops. In 1901, the speed of agricultural development in Europe slowed sharply. Since the 1870s, steam ships have been cruising on both sides of the ocean, and new routes to Europe have been opened up. Overseas grain, fruit, and meat have been pouring into Europe. The prices of agricultural products in Europe have fallen year after year, especially the advent of refrigerated ships. , European agricultural products are no longer able to compete with emerging markets.

Moreover, European countries are numerous, small in size, and different in laws. Not only do they lack suitable land to try new crops, but there are also no unified rules to arouse the enthusiasm of planting new crops.

The United States is about 3,000 miles from the east coast to the west coast, and the climate is extremely diverse-the mountains of Maine are cold in winter, and both sides of the Rio Grande are very hot in summer. In addition, the establishment of the country is short, full of vigor, good coordination and curiosity to accept the flood of “foreign crops”.

At the same time, American politics has never underestimated agriculture as the “foundation of the nation.” In the past, the U.S. presidential campaign relied entirely on “food” canvassing votes. The federal government gave voters corn, wheat, and barley seeds in small envelopes. The parliamentarians stuffed the envelopes into their pockets, and when they returned to the electoral district, they handed them to the relevant voters one by one, and blinked at the same time. In the 1880s, William Leduc, then commissioner of the Ministry of Agriculture, wrote to President Hayes, saying that “people recognize that the Ministry of Agriculture has a lot of merit in distributing seeds.” Of course, if the envelope handed over by members is bulging, voters will be happy to vote for him.

In the first year of the 20th century, the pace of development in the United States was completely reborn, from the rhythm of waltz to the rhythm of Rumba. After January 1, 1900, grocery stores and hotels in the United States were equipped with coin-operated public telephones; filmmakers flocked to a small town in California called Hollywood; and the Washington Monument was installed with an elevator at a speed of 1 mile per hour, which takes 5 minutes. It can rise to the top of the monument-a symbol of America’s high spirit of urgency and hard work.

The Ministry of Agriculture has also changed its laissez faire attitude of “farmers can grow whatever they want.” Fairchild re-entered the Ministry of Agriculture and was in charge of the “Seed and Plant Introduction Office.” Some people went abroad to explore crops, and some people received and cultivated them in Washington. If they were of value, they would then be promoted nationwide to form a “one-stop” service.

Almost all foreign crops entered the United States under Fairchild’s supervision. Alfalfa from the Andes has expanded the cultivation range of alfalfa in the United States. Date trees from the Middle East produced 5 tons of fruit in southern California and Arizona that year. The mango industry in Florida started from scratch and became the industry leader. Seedless persimmons, new varieties of cherries, pomegranates, wild pears, and hardy citrus are still entering customs.

Fairchild’s life came at the right time. When he was born, the painting of American agricultural customs was still a blank sheet of paper. By the time he died, the painting was already colorful: yellow is the nectarines and lemons from inland Asia, red is Mongolian blood orange, and green is Central American avocado and Caucasian grapes, purple are dates, raisins and eggplants from the Middle East. For this reason, Fairchild has gone through hardships, passed by the god of death several times, and was regarded as a “spy” by foreign governments.

By the middle of the 20th century, when President Truman took office, a large number of overseas crops from North America were imported and lush, and the world’s most advantageous agricultural system had been established.

Unwilling to appreciate
Fairchild’s legendary career, in Daniel Stone’s biography “Food Explorer”, is regarded as the best symbol of Americans’ endless curiosity and strong national power. Most people will also think that it is nothing more than wading through mountains and rivers, transporting back a few packs of tree seeds, learning things and learning, what does it have to do with politics?

The same example actually happened earlier. American naturalist writer Willard Price, born in 1887, is widely known by China’s “post-80s” because Beijing Children’s Publishing House published his popular science book “The Adventures of Hal Roger” in 1992. In the book, elder brother Hal and younger brother Roger travel around the world to capture various animals for their father Hunter. The murders in the turbulent rivers of the Amazon, the fighting between humans and animals in the sisal clusters of the African grasslands, and the tragedy of the whales on the Pacific Ocean are all showing the Americans’ fearlessness and “desai” character.

However, the old Hunter sent his two sons to fight all over the world, not to seek the truth. He runs a private zoo on Long Island, New York, and sells the captured animals and the rare and exotic treasures to Europe and the United States. To put it bluntly, this naturalist is an animal dealer, a colonial predator and a missionary of Western knowledge. Poor animals, like the naive native tribes, are unknown deserts that the Americans are about to conquer.

For the sake of pluralism and pluralism, political correctness prevails, but the taste of food loses its central position. The variety show “Master Chef” is a typical example. Among the contestants, there must be Asians, Latinos, and African Americans. There must also be typical “red necks”, West Coast Silicon Valley elites, and homosexuals.
Willard Price is just like his old Hunter. He wanted to be a missionary and later became a naturalist. He traveled three times around the world to collect collections for the American Museum of Natural History. He lived in Japan for a long time in the 1830s—actually, he was a spy sent by the US government to the Far East. He also wrote “Chinese Revolution.”

Fairchild collects plant seeds all over the world and is no more noble than Willard Price. They go up to nine days to capture the moon and go down to the five oceans to catch turtles. They are the unique “hero” posture of “victors” since the era of the great nautical era. Under the banner of “science”, the biological nameplate of “differentiated” is all the “legislation” of foreign land. This is also the origin of the discipline that anthropological scholars have been difficult to tell so far-with the curious eyes of a superior race, condescendingly scan all the creatures in the natural world.

The key is that knowledge, capital and power can never be separated. This is a secret shared by early “naturalists” and colonial politics. The anthropologist Levi Strauss understood this very early. He wrote in “The Melancholy Tropics”, “I hate travel, I hate explorers.”

Having said that, has the American catering industry, after learning from others’ strengths, exploded into new shining points? I’m afraid from the perspective of elite diet, for the sake of diversity and diversity, political correctness is overwhelming, but the taste of food loses its central position. The variety show “Master Chef” is a typical example. Culinary masters from all over the United States gather, but among the contestants, there must be Asians, Latinos, and African Americans, and there must also be typical “red necks” and West Coast. Silicon Valley elites and homosexuals, everyone comes to the stage to cook as a tribute to grandparents who have emigrated across the sea, and bring “the taste of home.” These unspoken rules inevitably make the seemingly rich selection of dishes actually similar, and strengthen the “stereotype” of taste.

And the food for the soul of ordinary Americans does not have much to do with the performances in “Master Chef”. After all, the contestants of the show are chefs who often serve high-end restaurants in Las Vegas; it has nothing to do with nutritional balance. In the documentary “American Food”, the favorites among Americans are “grilled meat”, “ribs”, “hot dogs”, “fried snacks”, “sandwiches”, “doughnuts” and “pizzas”. In short, there is nothing the same. Contains rich vegetables and fruits, nothing is not so high in calories and fat content. Of course, the weight of every American who feasts on a photo in a restaurant seems to be far above healthy standards.

The fruits and vegetables that Fairchild tried so hard to introduce have indeed “enriched” the American agricultural system and provided more choices for American dining tables. It’s just that the American public doesn’t seem to appreciate this diversity, and their appetite is still close to the recipe of 1856.