Bananas are cheap and everywhere but maybe not for long

August 15, 2011

Download Story
(Getty Images/Bruno Vincent)
There are more than 1,000 banana varieties but only one, the Cavendish, is widely sold.

We revisit our occasional series Food Mondays by taking a closer look at bananas. In America, we eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined. Beginning in the late 19th century, American fruit companies bullied workers and manipulated governments in Central America to ensure low prices for the tropical fruit, thus giving rise to the term “banana republic.”

A century later, the fruit is still cheap and ubiquitous in the U.S. But that may soon change. A deadly fungus has severely reduced banana crops in Asia and Australia. Scientists expect that it’s only a matter of time before it hits the crops in Latin America, where we get our supply. We’ll sort out what’s happening to our beloved banana with Dan Koeppel, a journalist and author of the book, Banana: the Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World.