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Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the Worldby Dan Koeppel
Synopses & Reviews
A gripping biological detective story that uncovers the myth, mystery, and endangered fate of the worldas 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 aapplea consumed by Eve is actually a banana (it makes sense, doesnat 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.
"Koeppel does a good job of explaining the banana's complex biology and the equally complex efforts to save the endangered fruit." San Francisco Chronicle
"[E]ven for an organic-food enthusiast like me, [Koeppel's] arguments...were compelling enough that they made me think. And that alone is worth the cover price." Boston Globe
"A lively, well-modulated survey." Kirkus Reviews
The untold history of how meat made America: a tale of the oversized egos, self-made millionaires, and ruthless magnates; eccentrics, politicians, and pragmatists who shaped us into the greatest eaters and providers of meat in history.
The untold story of how meat made America: a tale of the self-made magnates, pragmatic farmers, and impassioned activists who shaped us into the greatest eaters and providers of meat in history
"Ogle is a terrific writer, and she takes us on a brisk romp through two centuries of history, full of deft portraits of entrepreneurs, inventors, promoters and charlatans.... Ms. Ogle believes, all exceptions admitted, that [the food industry] has delivered Americans good value, and her book makes that case in fascinating detail." —Wall Street JournalThe moment European settlers arrived in North America, they began transforming the land into a meat-eaters paradise. Long before revolution turned colonies into nation, Americans were eating meat on a scale the Old World could neither imagine nor provide: an average European was lucky to see meat once a week, while even a poor American man put away about two hundred pounds a year.
Maureen Ogle guides us from that colonial paradise to the urban meat-making factories of the nineteenth century to the hyperefficient packing plants of the late twentieth century. From Swift and Armour to Tyson, Cargill, and ConAgra. From the 1880s cattle bonanza to 1980s feedlots. From agribusiness to todays “local” meat suppliers and organic countercuisine. Along the way, Ogle explains how Americans carnivorous demands shaped urban landscapes, midwestern prairies, and western ranges, and how the American system of meat making became a source of both pride and controversy.
Read Dan Koeppel's posts on the Penguin Blog.
In the vein of the bestselling Salt and Cod, a gripping chronicle of the myth, mystery, and uncertain fate of the worldandrsquo;s most popular fruit
In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the bananaandrsquo;s history, cultural significance, and endangered future, award-winning journalist Dan Koeppel gives readers plenty of food for thought. Fast-paced and highly entertaining, Banana takes us from jungle to supermarket, from corporate boardrooms to kitchen tables around the world. We begin in the Garden of Edenandmdash;examining scholarsandrsquo; belief that Eveandrsquo;s andldquo;appleandrdquo; was actually a bananaandmdash; and travel to early-twentieth-century Central America, where aptly named andldquo;banana republicsandrdquo; rose and fell over the crop, while the companies now known as Chiquita and Dole conquered the marketplace. Koeppel then chronicles the bananaandrsquo;s path to the present, ultimatelyandmdash;and most alarminglyandmdash;taking us to banana plantations across the globe that are being destroyed by a fast-moving blight, with no cure in sightandmdash;and to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the worldandrsquo;s most beloved fruit.
About the Author
Dan Koeppel has been writing for more than 20 years about bikes, bike racing, and outdoor adventure for National Geographic Adventure, Bicycling, Men's Journal, and ESPN: The Magazine. He was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2003.
Table of Contents
1. Carnivore America 1
2. “We Are Here to Make Money” 26
3. The (High) Price of Success 63
4. Factories, Farmers, and Chickens 90
5. “How Can We Go Wrong?” 123
6. The Vacuum at the Top 153
7. The Doubters Crusade 188
8. Utopian Visions, Red Tape Reality 223
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