Alissa Hamilton is a former Food & Society Fellow, lawyer and scholar from Toronto. She’s written a seminal book on the origins and manufacture of orange juice, and is often quoted in the news when something disturbing happens with America’s favorite breakfast drink.
She was kind enough to send me this posting from the USDA blog on the “Citrus Wizard of Florida,” Lue Gim Gong. He immigrated to the U.S. before the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and I wonder how he must have felt as an American citizen watching the rising tide of anti-Asian sentiment in his adopted country. He spent his life pioneering new varieties of oranges, grapefruits, apples, tomatoes and peaches. Most notably, he cross-pollinated two orange species to create the “Lue Gim Gong orange,” a breakthrough which won him a prestigious award from the America Pomological Society in 1911. Florida, which honored him with the title of “The Father of Florida’s Citrus Industry,” is now the largest source of winter vegetables for the Eastern United States, with over 4,500 acres of Chinese vegetable production alone. Lue Gim Gong’s vision helped build what is now a very profitable industry.