Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

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Penguin, Dec 27, 2007 - Business & Economics - 304 pages
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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User Review  - Christina_E_Mitchell - LibraryThing

I walked into the front doors of my local library, and there was this book. It was one of the featured books on some library summer theme. I couldn't resist picking it up. I had completed my doctoral ... Read full review

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User Review  - Stembie3 - LibraryThing

The book is well researched and well written. It was a little long for me, but I prefer fiction to non-fiction. I read the book because I'd read a good review of it. Read full review

Contents

The Worlds Most Humble Fruit
And God Created the Banana
A Banana in Your Pocket?
The First Farm
All in the Family
Asia
Pacific
Africa
Brand Name Bananas
Guatemala
Goodbye Michel
Cavendish
Falling Apart
Embracing the
Chronic Injury
Banana Plus Banana

Americas
Corn Flakes and Coup dEtats
Makes a Banana CHAPTER 15 The Banana Massacre
The Inhuman Republics
Straightening Out the Business
Never Enough
Knowledge Is Powerless
Pure Science
A Second Front
No Respite
A Savior?
Golden Child
A New Banana
A Long Way from Panama
Know Your Enemies
A Banana Crossroads
Frankenbanana
Still the Octopus?
The Way

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About the author (2007)

Dan Koeppel, a 2011 James Beard Award winner, is a science and nature writer who has written for National Geographic, Outside, Scientific American, Wired, and other national publications. He has discussed bananas on NPR’s Fresh Air and Science Friday.

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