National Geographic : 1906 Apr
VOL. XVII, No. 4 WASHINGTON, APRIL, 1906 THE EATIOTI OUR PLANT IMMIGRANTS * AN ACCOUNT OF SOME OF THE RESULTS OF THE WORK OF THE OFFICE OF SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND OF SOME OF THE PROBLEMS IN PROCESS OF SOLUTION BY DAVID FAIRCHILD AGRICULTURAL EXPLORER, IN CHARGE OF FOREIGN EXPLORATIONS THE era of pork and hominy has passed forever in this country, but so short a time ago that our fathers refer to it as the time of plain living. What has wrought this change throughout the table menus of the country since the days of the California gold fever? It is not the gold fields of the Pacific slope, nor the industrial de velopment of the country that has caused it, so much as the introduction of new food plants. The changes that have been going on since those wagon caravans fol lowed each other across the great plains have been gigantic, but in no respect have they been more remarkable than in those which Plant Introduction has brought about. Slowly at first, with the establishment of those plants that the immigrants brought over with them, this work has gone on, unchronicled by historians, until today the very things that we look upon as characteristic of great regions of the country are vast fields and enormous or chards of introduced plants. SOME NOTED IMPORTATIONS The discovery of gold at Sutter's mill was the beginning of the great industrial development of the Pacific coast, but the introduction by the Catholic Fathers of a single forage plant-alfalfa-has turned two million acres of land into the most generally profitable farm area of this country. These same Fathers brought with them to their missions olive cuttings, whose descendants today cover thousands of acres of the best tilled olive orchards in the world. A few orange cuttings from the east coast of Brazil, called to the at tention of the world by an American woman, have grown until they number * The substance of an address to the National Geographic Society, February 9, 1906, and published by permission of the Secretary of Agriculture.