Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

Dan Koeppel, Author . Penguin/Hudson Street $23.95 (281p) ISBN 978-1-59463-038-5

The world’s most humble fruit has caused inordinate damage to nature and man, and Popular Science journalist Koeppel (To See Every Bird on Earth ) embarks on an intelligent, chock-a-block sifting through the havoc. Seedless, sexless bananas evolved from a wild inedible fruit first cultivated in Southeast Asia, and was probably the “apple” that got Adam and Eve in trouble in the Garden of Eden. From there the fruit traveled to Africa and across the Pacific, arriving on U.S. shores probably with the Europeans in the 15th century. However, the history of the banana turned sinister as American businessmen caught on to the marketability of this popular, highly perishable fruit then grown in Jamaica. Thanks to the building of the railroad through Costa Rica by the turn of the century, the United Fruit company flourished in Central America, its tentacles extending into all facets of government and industry, toppling “banana republics” and igniting labor wars. Meanwhile, the Gros Michel variety was annihilated by a fungus called Panama disease (Sigatoka), which today threatens the favored Cavendish, as Koeppel sounds the alarm, shuttling to genetics-engineering labs from Honduras to Belgium. His sage, informative study poses the question fairly whether it’s time for consumers to reverse a century of strife and exploitation epitomized by the purchase of one banana. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/29/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 304 pages - 978-1-4295-9326-7
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4295-9325-0
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-21391-9
Paperback - 281 pages - 978-0-452-29008-2
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