The Fruits of Natural Advantage: Making the Industrial Countryside in California / Edition 1

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The once arid valleys and isolated coastal plains of California are today the center of fruit production in the United States. Steven Stoll explains how a class of capitalist farmers made California the nation's leading producer of fruit and created the first industrial countryside in America. This brilliant portrayal of California from 1880 to 1930 traces the origins, evolution, and implications of the fruit industry while providing a window through which to view the entire history of California.

Stoll shows how California growers assembled chemicals, corporations, and political influence to bring the most perishable products from the most distant state to the great urban markets of North America. But what began as a compromise between a beneficent environment and intensive cultivation ultimately became threatening to the soil and exploitative of the people who worked it.

Invoking history, economics, sociology, agriculture, and environmental studies, Stoll traces the often tragic repercussions of fruit farming and shows how central this story is to the development of the industrial countryside in the twentieth century.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520211728
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Stoll is Assistant Professor of History at Yale University.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue: In the Rain's Shadow 1
1 The Conservation of the Countryside 7
The Rural Question 8
Why Regions Specialize 16
Relative Advantages: California's Wheat Bonanza 25
2 Orchard Capitalists 32
The Irrigated Landscape Takes Shape 33
Growers 35
Reading the Environment 46
Relative Advantages: New York's Frost 52
Economies of the Packinghouse 55
3 Organize and Advertise 63
When Merchants Ruled the Trade 64
Cooperative Corporations 74
A Deal in Pears 79
From Overproduction to Underconsumption 81
The Market Makes a Landscape 88
4 A Chemical Shield 94
Single-Crop Ecology 95
Mixing Chemicals 99
State Business: Orchard Police and Biological Control 102
Scientific Authority 107
Industry Leads to Excess 113
5 White Men and Cheap Labor 124
A Season's Labor All at Once 126
Confusion over Exclusion 133
Sleeping on the Roadside 137
"Our Work for Our Wages" 142
Importing a Workforce 147
6 Natural Advantages in the National Interest 155
The Contradictions of Growth 156
Shifting Scale 162
Orchard Culture in American Culture 173
Epilogue: Restless Orchard 181
Notes 187
Bibliography 239
Index 263
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