Kurlansky's engaging portrait of Clarence Birdseye (1886 - 1956) - adventurer, inventor, entrepreneur, naturalist and omnivore - is important not only because Birdseye changed what we eat, how farmers grow crops, and how we cook our food, but for what Birdseye reveals about the American character: its resourcefulness, its inquisitiveness, and its exploitive relationship to the natural world.
Observant, eccentric, and always trying to make a buck, the young Birdseye immersed himself in nature, collecting, tasting, killing and selling specimens that interested him. At nine he trapped and shipped muskrats to England, and at eleven he launched his own taxidermy school. During his two years at Amherst College, he captured and sold frogs to the Bronx Zoo, and his fellow students nicknamed him "Bugs."
After his family's financial problems forced him to leave Amherst early, Birdseye, keen...
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