Title: Banana — The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
Author: Dan Koeppel
→ Devour it
Nibble till it’s gone
Spit it out
Political intrigue, corruption, history, humor, science, folklore, genetic engineering, ethics, and a ticking clock for the future of bananas. All in this book about a seemingly mundane topic. And there’s pictures!
This is, quite simply, a fascinating book. It might even be my favorite book about bananas. And that includes “Good Night Gorilla” and “The Happy Herbivore.”
When I buy bananas at the grocery store, I’m always delighted and amazed at how inexpensive they are. I was stunned to learn that even in 1913 the same thing was true. Even though bananas were shipped halfway around the world, they were still cheaper than good ‘ol American apples.
The book is full of people I’d like to know. Like Wilson Popenoe. “By the time he was twenty, he was an agricultural prodigy, with an encyclopedic knowledge of nearly every fruit and vegetable grown in the United States and an intense desire that his understanding should encompass the entire world.”
If you’ve ever thought about bananas — and that’s probably a big ‘if’ — chances are you’d be surprised at how much you didn’t know about them. For instance, did you know a banana tree isn’t even a tree? It’s actually the world’s largest herb. And that a banana is actually a ginormous berry? And that even though we only eat one variety — the Cavendish — there are over 1,000 types of bananas growing all over the world? And that the bananas you eat don’t have seeds? They are always cloned.
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
But the most important thing to know about bananas is that the Cavendish is not the banana Americans ate before World War II. That distinction goes to the Gros Michel … the Big Mike. But the Gros Michel disappeared due to a fungus they named Panama Disease. By 1960 the Gros Michel was extinct.
Now, Panama Disease is stalking the Cavendish. It’s a race against time and nobody knows if the banana can be saved.
Travel with Dan Koeppel on his banana journey and I guarantee this will become your favorite book about bananas too. It might also end up being your favorite mystery and history book too!