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The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

by Dan Koeppel

      You'll never look at a banana the same way again after digesting this fascinating narrative about the fruit's checkered past, and what the future holds for what most people consider a rather mundane snack.

Part history, part science adventure, Banana describes not only the antecedents of today's popular Cavendish variety, but also why this variety is seriously threatened. The reader will be surprised to discover that a fruit which has been taken for granted for decades, and been a staple of the breakfast table and lunchbox, may eventually completely disappear from the supermarket produce counter.

Koepple engages the reader from page one with his highly readable style, which manages to squeeze in a lot of information without making this volume sound like a textbook. Whether he is writing about how the banana found its way from one continent to another, how its cultivation had major social implications, or why it has been so difficult to protect the fruit from the ravages of disease, the author keeps his audience glued to the narrative.

After a thorough explanation of why the banana is threatened, there's a cursory discussion on what might be done to at least keep some type of the yellow fruit available. This intersection of science and food involves high-tech research and test tube bananas, but, as Koepple explains, this may be the only viable option available if the banana is to continue to be our number one fruit.

There's plenty of food for thought in this book, which calls attention to a problem the banana industry has been aware of for a number of years. Even if you don't enjoying nibbling an occasional banana, I think you'll discover reading Banana is time well spent.

The Book

Hudson Street Press
January 2008
Non-Fiction Agribusiness
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The Reviewer

Bob Walch
Reviewed 2008
© 2008