Company Fruit in Danger

Company Fruit in Danger

Dan Koeppel speaks at an event sponsored by the Latin American Institute on Oct. 28, 2008. (Photo by Valerie Berkovich)

In the second of a series of talks by journalists for the UCLA Latin American Institute, Dan Koeppel discusses the history and the fate of the banana.

Dan Koeppel's social and political history of the world's most popular fruit, Banana: The History of the Fruit That Changed the World (2008), also contains a warning that the only variety of banana sold across borders, the Cavendish, could fall victim to a new strain of the same fungus that wiped out its predecessor in the 20th century. Many love the fragile fruit, but few have reason to love the industry it spawned. In the book Koeppel retells the histories of compliant "banana republics" that, with the U.S. military, essentially subcontracted for the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita), keeping down resistance and of course wages in banana-growing countries.

For more information about the book, including a New York Times op-ed by Koeppel and interviews with him, visit

Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008