Bananas and Commodity Chains

There's an interesting op-ed in today's New York Times about the price of bananas at the grocery store. Writer Dan Koeppel says the banana's days as a cheap staple are numbered due to the increasing costs of fuel, reduced supply because of floods in Ecuador, and a potentially catastrophic fungus working its way through the trees. Because all commercial bananas are the same genetic variety, the fungus could completely and permanently wipe out the crop. This op-ed reminds brings to mind several Duke books for further reading. Steve Striffler and Mark Moberg's Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas brings together anthropologists, historians, economists, and geographers to tell the history of the Americas through the cultural, political, economic,
and agricultural processes that brought bananas from the forests of
Latin America and the Caribbean to the breakfast tables of the United
States and Europe. Striffler is also the author of In the Shadows of State and Capital, which looks at the history of the banana industry in Ecuador. And finally, From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000, edited by Steven Topik, Carlos Marichal, and Zephyr Frank, examines bananas as just one of many commodities that have influenced Latin America over the past 500 years.

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