David A. Taylor


David Taylor writes about revealing connections between people and their worlds. His writing about people, food, health and science has appeared in SmithsonianThe Washington PostThe Village VoiceOutsideThe Christian Science Monitor, Science, and Oxford American.

Current Project


My latest project is a history involving WW2, immigration and cork, described briefly here. It’s a story about how cork (from cork oak forests native to the Mediterranean) was a big deal in the mid-20th century–so big that it ensnared companies and their workers in life-and-death geopolitical struggles. What began as a simple trade in bark and bottle caps snowballed into a global drama, with sabotage, espionage, and profiteering.

Little-known fact: at the middle of the 20th century the United States imported nearly half the world’s cork. It was crucial (as an insulator) for the defense industry’s wartime production of planes, ships and equipment. For years during World War II and after, Arbor Day celebrations across the U.S. featured governors and other officials intoning to live and radio audiences how citizens could help keep America free by planting a cork oak. In response, 4-H groups, boy scouts and garden clubs requested the seedlings and planted trees to do their patriotic duty.