Summary of Humans Made the Banana Perfect – But Soon, It’ll Be Gone

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Humans Made the Banana Perfect – But Soon, It’ll Be Gone summary
The banana can teach you about the precarious state of today’s food supply.

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The modern food industry has nearly perfected agriculture: Most fruits are available all year round; staple foods look the same and taste the same wherever you go; and crop yields are so high that fewer and fewer people go hungry every year. But what made modern agriculture so successful may also be the cause of its own destruction, says Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology who has written a book on the future of the world’s food supply. In this excerpt from his book, Dunn uses the banana as a case study to demonstrate that today’s staple food crops are only one pest away from being wiped out. getAbstract recommends this eye-opening information to all consumers.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why all bananas you can buy in stores look and taste the same,
  • Why monoculture plants are ticking time bombs, and
  • Why preserving biodiversity will keep humanity from starvation.
 

Summary

The United Fruit Company, known today as Chiquita Brands, has dominated the production and global sale of bananas for more than a century. In the 19th century, the company and its competitors bred and cloned the banana into one standard variety – a hardy, highly productive and sweet-tasting fruit named Gros Michel – and grew it across Central America and some parts of Africa and Asia. But by cultivating only one genetically identical banana variety, the banana industry failed to heed the lesson of the 19th-century coffee industry in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In the early 1800s, the British started to cultivate a single variety of coffee across large parts of the island to answer growing demand for the beverage at home. As the coffee plants were genetically identical and planted close together in vast monocultures, they were also susceptible to the same pathogens. Coffee rust ended up destroying the coffee plants in Ceylon, and coffee growers reverted to growing tea on their plantations.

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About the Author

Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, wrote the book Never Out of Season.


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