Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World

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Penguin, 2008 - Business & Economics - 281 pages
22 Reviews
Read Dan Koeppel's posts on the Penguin Blog.

A gripping biological detective story that uncovers the myth, mystery, and endangered fate of the world's most humble fruit

To most people, a banana is a banana: a simple yellow fruit. Americans eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined. In others parts of the world, bananas are what keep millions of people alive. But for all its ubiquity, the banana is surprisingly mysterious; nobody knows how bananas evolved or exactly where they originated. Rich cultural lore surrounds the fruit: In ancient translations of the Bible, the “apple” consumed by Eve is actually a banana (it makes sense, doesn't it?). Entire Central American nations have been said to rise and fall over the banana.

But the biggest mystery about the banana today is whether it will survive. A seedless fruit with a unique reproductive system, every banana is a genetic duplicate of the next, and therefore susceptible to the same blights. Today's yellow banana, the Cavendish, is increasingly threatened by such a blight—and there's no cure in sight.

Banana combines a pop-science journey around the globe, a fascinating tale of an iconic American business enterprise, and a look into the alternately tragic and hilarious banana subculture (one does exist)— ultimately taking us to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the world's most beloved fruit.

  

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Review: Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

User Review  - Melissa - Goodreads

This was a fascinating overview of the history of banana breeding and cultivation. I really enjoyed reading the narrative of how bananas went from a fruit that was enjoyed entirely locally (and in so ... Read full review

Review: Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

User Review  - DD - Goodreads

You know NOTHING about bananas.... The banana you eat today (the "Cavendish" banana) is genetically the same banana that you ate last week, last month, or anytime in the past 46 years. Bananas ... Read full review

Contents

And God Created the Banana
3
A Banana in Your Pocket?
9
The First Farm
15
Asia
27
Pacific
34
Africa
40
Corn Flakes and Coup dEtats
49
Bringing Bananas Home
51
Brand Name Bananas
116
Guatemala
119
Goodbye Michel
133
Cavendish
135
Falling Apart
142
Embracing the New
148
Chronic Injury
152
Banana Plus Banana
157

Taming the Wild
57
Why Banana Peels Are Funny
63
Sam the Banana Man
71
No Bananas Today
77
Man Makes a Banana
80
The Banana Massacre
84
The Inhuman Republics
90
Straightening Out the Business
93
Never Enough
97
Knowledge Is Powerless
99
Pure Science
103
A Second Front
106
No Respite
111
A Savior?
166
A New Banana
189
A Long Way from Panama 185
194
A Banana Crossroads
201
Frankenbanana
211
Still the Octopus?
218
The Way Out
228
A Banana Time Line
244
Bibliography
261
Acknowledgments
265
Index
269
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Dan Koeppel is a well-known outdoors, nature, and adventure writer who has written for the New York Times Magazine, Outside, Audubon, Popular Science, and National Geographic Adventure, where he is a contributing editor. Koeppel has also appeared on CNN and Good Morning America, and is a former commentator for Public Radio International's Marketplace.

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