Bananas, politics and the economy

If you eat bananas in your cereal for breakfast and don’t refrigerate them because you were taught not to, there’s a reason. There’s a new book out called Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World that explains those habits, as well as how the Victorian era folks had a penchant for masking its shape lest it offend anyone. Most importantly, the book covers the politics of how the banana gained its fame, making fortunes for some and misery for others.

Terry Gross interviewed Dan Koeppel, the author of the book on Fresh Air yesterday. I caught part of the show and was fascinated. The story of the banana incorporates much of the world, offering insight into world economics and politics, particularly in Central America. The banana, for example, led to the overthrowing of the president of Guatemala in the 1950s and his exile.

During the conversation they also talked about the various types of bananas there are in the world and why they aren’t sold in the U.S. Buying various types of bananas overseas is a market going pleasure. I’ve found that the ones not much bigger than a finger are often the sweetest. There are these reddish colored ones, though, that are quite yummy. Reading this book, I think, would make a person eye those bananas in the grocery store in a different light. I do.

(Here’s the link to the broadcast page.)