As salmon becomes the poster child of what can happen when seafood isn't sourced responsibly it's so nutritious! so versatile! and disappearing from our waters! bananas are taking up that position in the fruit department.
A staple on American countertops, bananas may be the next item on your list of convenient must-haves to get a big price increase, according to David Koeppel in the New York Times. He says the immediate reasons for the price increase are the rising cost of oil and reduced supply caused by floods in Ecuador.
Koeppel reveals fun facts: Did you know Americans eat as many bananas as apples and oranges combined? The story of how the fruit became so popular, however, isn't a pretty one.
The industry has relied on bananas' reputation as a cheap food, according to the author. He explains that bananas became a staple only after the United Fruit Company (which is Chiquita today) figured out how to get bananas to American tables quickly by clearing rainforest in Latin America, building railroads and communication networks and inventing refrigeration techniques to control ripening.
Then, to keep costs low, the company exercised iron-fisted control over the Latin American countries where the fruit was grown, resorting to heavy-handed tactics to keep workers quiet.
Koeppel warns that another issue affecting banana prices may be more long-term: Panama disease. A virulent strain of the disease has been spreading across the world, and because the banana industry largely sticks to one variety the Cavendish they could all be wiped out.
For now, the price increase might better reflect the fact that bananas are, after all, an exotic fruit and they travel long distances to get to our tables.
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