cover image The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession

The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession

Adam Leith Gollner, . . Scribner, $25 (279pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-9694-6

Journalist Gollner's debut is a rollicking account of the world of fruit and fruit fanatics. He's traveled to many countries in search of exotic fruits, and he describes in sensuous detail some of the hundreds of varieties he's sampled, among them peanut butter fruit, blackberry-jam fruit and coco-de-mer—a suggestively shaped coconut known as the “lady fruit” that grows only in the Seychelles. Equally intriguing are some of the characters he has encountered—a botanist in Borneo who spends his life studying malodorous durians; fruitarians who believe that a fruit diet promotes transcendental experiences; fruitleggers who bypass import laws; and fruit inventors such as the fabricator of the Grapple—which looks like an apple and tastes like a grape. The FDA and the often dubious activities of the international fruit trade, multinational corporations like Chiquita, come in for scrutiny, as does New York City's largest wholesale produce market, in a chapter with more information than one may want on biochemical growth inhibitors, hormone-based retardants, dyes, waxes and corrupt USDA inspectors. Gollner's passion for fruit is infectious, and his fascinating book is a testament to the fact that there is much more to the world of fruit than the bland varieties on our supermarket shelves. (May)