"Plant Hunters" sounds like the name of a boring Travel Channel series (though, if I'm being honest, I might watch that), but in reality, they were researchers like the one you see to your left who scoured the world for cheaper, more wholesome crops to farm in America. Apparently, it was a dangerous job, too, as Dr. Frank N. Meyer, pictured here, "perished while seeking new foods for us in a remote corner of Asia."
Some of the plant hunters' key finds included Japanese rice, Guatemalan avocadoes and Durum wheat. Scientists in a lab closely examined all "immigrant plants" for potentially harmful insects or diseases before we went about sticking them in our soil.
Of course, scientists then, as now, were concerned that all Americans really want to shove down their gullets is crap. Many of the plant hunters' discoveries went largely unnoticed, said the director of the U.S. Service of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction. "If one per cent of the money spent in advertising chewing gums or breakfast cereals could be applied to advertising the varied vegetable immigrants thus introduced, the American dinner table would boast scores of new, cheaper, and more wholesome foods," the article reads.
Read the full story in How Plant Hunters Risk Lives to Find New Foods for Your Table