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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
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 world’s most popular fruit
In this fascinating and surprising exploration of the banana’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 Eden—examining scholars’ belief that Eve’s “apple” was actually a banana— and travel to early-twentieth-century Central America, where aptly named “banana republics” rose and fell over the crop, while the companies now known as Chiquita and Dole conquered the marketplace. Koeppel then chronicles the banana’s path to the present, ultimately—and most alarmingly—taking us to banana plantations across the globe that are being destroyed by a fast-moving blight, with no cure in sight—and 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.
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.
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