Synopses & Reviews
In the vein of Mark Kurlansky's 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.
"Koeppel does a good job of explaining the banana's complex biology and the equally complex efforts to save the endangered fruit... Clear, engaging...admirable...part historical narrative and part pop-science adventure." 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
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.
About the Author
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.