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How exotic fruits, veggies became commonplace

Amanda Harris will discuss her new book, ‘Fruits of Eden: America’s Plant Hunters,’ tonight at 7 p.m at the Shelter Island library.

Much of what we eat today comes from the sea that surrounds our Island, from the rich land of our own gardens, farms as nearby as the North Fork or shipped fresh from Florida or the West Coast.

Until the end of the 19th century though, American menus were quite limited — standard seasonal farm fare, fresh or preserved through salting, smoking or “canning.” 

David Fairchild and a small group of other dedicated botanists changed all that. 

Now we can enjoy a cornucopia of tasty, colorful fruits and vegetables grown from seeds collected from around the world.

Islander Amanda Harris comes to the library’s Friday Night Dialogues tonight, August 14 at 7 p.m. on to discuss her new book, “Fruits of Eden: America’s Plant Hunters,” and to tell how Fairchild and his fellow explorers, who loved eating, traveling and swapping adventure stories, helped transform American food.

Mangoes, for instance, came to Fairchild’s attention while touring Southeast Asia with a Chicago investor who financed his work. 

He started saving their seeds after his first taste of the exotic fruit and eventually gave one to his boss, the Secretary of Agriculture and a former Iowa hog farmer with a much less adventurous palate. 

He passed it along to a friend, who wouldn’t eat it either; he palmed it off on his gardener, who in turn fed it to his chickens.

Even they wouldn’t eat Fairchild’s mango, which had a peculiar smell, a taste like turpentine and a bad reputation. 

However, Fairchild was not one to give up. 

After collecting mango seeds from all over the world, he sent them to experimental gardens across America. 

Slowly and carefully, plant breeders and farmers concocted domestic varieties that tasted good and could be shipped safely. 

Today’s popular varieties are the direct descendants of Fairchild’s first taste of that mango.

The avocado, lemon, nectarines, dates and a host of other no-longer-exotic fruits would follow, among some 200,000 species and varieties of non-native plants that have come to the U.S. since 1898.

Soon after his initial exploratory trip, Fairchild went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and became “Agricultural Explorer in Charge of Seed and Plant Exploration for the United States Department of Agriculture” — a long-winded title that he loved. 

He served off and on for 37 years, through the terms of six presidents from Benjamin Harrison to Calvin Coolidge.

Fairchild’s many other achievements include bringing the flowering Japanese cherry tree to Washington and the introduction of tropical fruits to Florida, as well as being the driving force behind the establishment of the Everglades National Park.

Ms. Harris writes from a distinguished personal and professional perspective. 

She is a descendant of the renowned botanist whom she profiles in “Fruits of Eden,” her first non-fiction book. 

She is the granddaughter of Alice Barton Harris and the daughter of Robin Franklin Harris, who was the godson of David Fairchild’s wife, Marian, the daughter of Alexander Graham Bell.

Ms. Harris was a reporter and editor at Newsday for many years. She writes fiction with a focus on short stories, has written two plays and published two volumes of poetry. 

When not at home on the Island, she lives in Manhattan and Montcabrier, France, with her husband, Drew Featherstone.

Admission to Friday Night Dialogues at the Library is free; donations are gratefully accepted.

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While "Flavor" is very subjective, and each country that grows mangoes is very nationalistic, these are the mango varieties that are the most sought after around the world because of sweetnesss (Brix) and demand.

The Chaunsa has a Brix rating in the 22 degree level which is unheard of!
Carabao claims to be the sweetest mango in the world and was able to register this in the Guiness book of world records.
Perhaps it is time for a GLOBAL taste test ???

In alphabetical order by Country....



Alphonso (mango)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alphonso (हापुस Haapoos in Marathi, હાફુસ in Gujarati, ಆಪೂಸ್ Aapoos in Kannada) is a mango cultivar that is considered by many[who?] to be one of the best in terms of sweetness, richness and flavor. 

It has considerable shelf life of a week after it is ripe making it exportable. 

It is also one of the most expensive kinds of mango and is grown mainly in Kokan region of western India.

 It is in season April through May and the fruit wei…

Mangoes date back 65 million years according to research ...

Experts at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP) here have traced the origin of mango to the hills of Meghalaya, India from a 65 million year-old fossil of a mango leaf. 

The earlier fossil records of mango (Mangifera indica) from the Northeast and elsewhere were 25 to 30 million years old. The 'carbonized leaf fossil' from Damalgiri area of Meghalaya hills, believed to be a mango tree from the peninsular India, was found by Dr R. C. Mehrotra, senior scientist, BSIP and his colleagues. 

After careful analysis of the fossil of the mango leaf and leaves of modern plants, the BISP scientist found many of the fossil leaf characters to be similar to mangifera.

An extensive study of the anatomy and morphology of several modern-day species of the genus mangifera with the fossil samples had reinforced the concept that its centre of origin is Northeast India, from where it spread into neighbouring areas, says Dr. Mehrotra. 

The genus is believed to have disseminated into neighb…

DHL (INDIA) makes gifting mangoes as easy as 1-2-3-....

Gifting mangoes is now easy with DHL
Announcement / Corporate

 May 19, 2011, 14:04 IST

Come this summer pamper your loved ones abroad with a box of delicious mangoes through DHL’s Express Easy Mango service, a unique one-stop-shop and hassle-free service for gifting mangoes all across the world.

This unique service by DHL Express, the world’s leading express company, allows customers to send mangoes from India across the world to the following countries Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Hong Kong, Italy, Luxemburg, Maldives, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Qatar Singapore, Switzerland and Sweden.

Mangoes can be availed of free of cost by merely paying for the Air Express service. In addition, DHL Express assists customers with the necessary paperwork along with procurement of quality-grade Alphonso mangoes.

Commenting on the new service, Mr. R.S Subramanian, Country Head, DHL Express India said: “With the advent of the mango season, it is no wonder that DHL Express Ea…