With not one but two books on bananas crowding the food book shelves—Dan Koeppel’s Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World and Peter Chapman’s Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World—there is a lot of deep thinking going on about that creamy yellow fruit these days.

Katharine Mieszkowski sorts out the sordid history of bananas in a piece in Salon.

Conscious eaters have always had glimmers that bananas might not be the most untainted of fruits. The pejorative term banana republic refers to small countries that are controlled by corporations that harvest their natural resources, so that right there is a clue. But as Mieszkowski reveals, the history of the United States’ love affair with bananas is a lot bloodier than we might imagine, with events like the United Fruit Company staging a regime-change invasion, then demanding the new government reimburse it for the costs incurred!

From the cultural aspects to the historical (but, sadly, not the culinary), Mieszkowski hits the highlights for those who can’t quite find the time to wade through two banana-related tomes.

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