Author: Dan Koeppel
Release Date: 2007-12-27
Genre: Business & Economics
Read Dan Koeppel's posts on the Penguin Blog. A gripping biological detective story that uncovers the myth, mystery, and endangered fate of the world’s most humble fruit To most people, a banana is a banana: a simple yellow fruit. Americans eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined. In others parts of the world, bananas are what keep millions of people alive. But for all its ubiquity, the banana is surprisingly mysterious; nobody knows how bananas evolved or exactly where they originated. Rich cultural lore surrounds the fruit: In ancient translations of the Bible, the “apple” consumed by Eve is actually a banana (it makes sense, doesn’t it?). Entire Central American nations have been said to rise and fall over the banana. But the biggest mystery about the banana today is whether it will survive. A seedless fruit with a unique reproductive system, every banana is a genetic duplicate of the next, and therefore susceptible to the same blights. Today’s yellow banana, the Cavendish, is increasingly threatened by such a blight—and there’s no cure in sight. Banana combines a pop-science journey around the globe, a fascinating tale of an iconic American business enterprise, and a look into the alternately tragic and hilarious banana subculture (one does exist)—ultimately taking us to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the world’s most beloved fruit.
Author: Peter Chapman
Publisher: Canongate U.S.
Release Date: 2014-03-04
Genre: Business & Economics
In this compelling history of the United Fruit Company, Financial Times writer Peter Chapman weaves a dramatic tale of big business, deceit, and violence, exploring the origins of arguably one of the most controversial global corporations ever, and the ways in which their pioneering example set the precedent for the institutionalized greed of todayÕs multinational companies. The story has its source in United FruitÕs nineteenth-century beginnings in the jungles of Costa Rica. What follows is a damning examination of the companyÕs policies: from the marketing of the banana as the first fast food, to the companyÕs involvement in an invasion of Honduras, a massacre in Colombia, and a bloody coup in Guatemala. Along the way the company fostered covert links with U.S. power brokers such as Richard Nixon and CIA operative Howard Hunt, manipulated the press in new, and stoked the revolutionary ire of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. From the exploited banana republics of Central America to the concrete jungle of New York City, Peter ChapmanÕs Bananas is a lively and insightful cultural history of the coveted yellow fruit, as well as a gripping narrative about the infamous rise and fall of the United Fruit Company.
2012 IACP Award Winner in the Food Matters category Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award-winning article, "The Price of Tomatoes," investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have fourteen times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point? Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation's top restaurants. Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a who's who cast of characters in the tomato industry: the avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-Marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the U.S. attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; and the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents' medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years. Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit as well as an expose of today's agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.
The fascinating story of the most powerful source of energy the earth can yield Uranium is a common element in the earth's crust and the only naturally occurring mineral with the power to end all life on the planet. After World War II, it reshaped the global order-whoever could master uranium could master the world. Marie Curie gave us hope that uranium would be a miracle panacea, but the Manhattan Project gave us reason to believe that civilization would end with apocalypse. Slave labor camps in Africa and Eastern Europe were built around mine shafts and America would knowingly send more than six hundred uranium miners to their graves in the name of national security. Fortunes have been made from this yellow dirt; massive energy grids have been run from it. Fear of it panicked the American people into supporting a questionable war with Iraq and its specter threatens to create another conflict in Iran. Now, some are hoping it can help avoid a global warming catastrophe. In Uranium, Tom Zoellner takes readers around the globe in this intriguing look at the mineral that can sustain life or destroy it.
Author: Gary Paul Nabhan
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2014-04-07
Gary Paul Nabhan takes the reader on a vivid and far-ranging journey across time and space in this fascinating look at the relationship between the spice trade and culinary imperialism. Drawing on his own family’s history as spice traders, as well as travel narratives, historical accounts, and his expertise as an ethnobotanist, Nabhan describes the critical roles that Semitic peoples and desert floras had in setting the stage for globalized spice trade. Traveling along four prominent trade routes—the Silk Road, the Frankincense Trail, the Spice Route, and the Camino Real (for chiles and chocolate)—Nabhan follows the caravans of itinerant spice merchants from the frankincense-gathering grounds and ancient harbors of the Arabian Peninsula to the port of Zayton on the China Sea to Santa Fe in the southwest United States. His stories, recipes, and linguistic analyses of cultural diffusion routes reveal the extent to which aromatics such as cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and peppers became adopted worldwide as signature ingredients of diverse cuisines. Cumin, Camels, and Caravans demonstrates that two particular desert cultures often depicted in constant conflict—Arabs and Jews—have spent much of their history collaborating in the spice trade and suggests how a more virtuous multicultural globalized society may be achieved in the future.
Filled with anecdotes and fascinating information, "a spicy read indeed." (Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed the World) The perfect companion to Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, Pepper illuminates the rich history of pepper for a popular audience. Vivid and entertaining, it describes the part pepper played in bringing the Europeans, and later the Americans, to Asia and details the fascinating encounters they had there. As Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds, said, "After reading Marjorie Shaffer's Pepper, you'll reconsider the significance of that grinder or shaker on your dining room table. The pursuit of this wizened berry with the bite changed history in ways you've never dreamed, involving extraordinary voyages, international trade, exotic locales, exploitation, brutality, disease, extinctions, and rebellions, and featuring a set of remarkable characters." From the abundance of wildlife on the islands of the Indian Ocean, which the Europeans used as stepping stones to India and the East Indies, to colorful accounts of the sultan of Banda Aceh entertaining his European visitors with great banquets and elephant fights, this fascinating book reveals the often surprising story behind one of mankind's most common spices.
The author traces her quest around the Mediterranian to unravel the history of the olive, from who learned to make oil from it to why it became such a valuable commodity and how it expanded beyond the Middle East to the rest of the world.
The author of Sweet and Low presents a historical profile of Samuel Zemurray that traces his rise from a penniless youth to one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful men, offering insight into his capitalist talents and the ways in which his life reflected the best and worst of American business dealings.
Author: Tom Standage
Publisher: Anchor Canada
Release Date: 2010-01-08
Whatever your favourite tipple, when you pour yourself a drink, you have the past in a glass. You can likely find them all in your own kitchen — beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, cola. Line them up on the counter, and there you have it: thousands of years of human history in six drinks. Tom Standage opens a window onto the past in this tour of six beverages that remain essentials today. En route he makes fascinating forays into the byways of western culture: Why were ancient Egyptians buried with beer? Why was wine considered a “classier” drink than beer by the Romans? How did rum grog help the British navy defeat Napoleon? What is the relationship between coffee and revolution? And how did Coca-Cola become the number one poster-product for globalization decades before the term was even coined? From the Hardcover edition.
Author: Elizabeth Abbott
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Release Date: 2011-09-27
Sugar: A Bittersweet History is a compelling and surprising look at the sweet commodity, from how it Africanized the cane fields of the Caribbean to how it fuelled the Industrial Revolution and jumpstarted the fast-food revolution. The book explores the hidden stories behind this sweet product, revealing how powerful American interests deposed Queen Lili'uokalani of Hawaii, how Hitler tried to ensure a steady supply of beet sugar when enemies threatened to cut off Germany's supply of overseas cane sugar, and how South Africa established a domestic ethanol industry in the wake of anti-apartheid sugar embargos. The book follows the history of sugar to the present day, showing how sugar made eating on the run socially acceptable and played an integral role in today's fast food culture and obesity epidemic. Impressively researched and commandingly written, Sugar will forever change perceptions of this sweet treat.
Author: Kelsey Timmerman
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Release Date: 2013-04-08
Genre: Business & Economics
Bridges the gap between global farmers and fishermen and American consumers America now imports twice as much food as it did a decade ago. What does this increased reliance on imported food mean for the people around the globe who produce our food? Kelsey Timmerman set out on a global quest to meet the farmers and fisherman who grow and catch our food, and also worked alongside them: loading lobster boats in Nicaragua, splitting cocoa beans with a machete in Ivory Coast, and hauling tomatoes in Ohio. Where Am I Eating? tells fascinating stories of the farmers and fishermen around the world who produce the food we eat, explaining what their lives are like and how our habits affect them. This book shows how what we eat affects the lives of the people who produce our food. Through compelling stories, explores the global food economy including workers rights, the global food crisis, fair trade, and immigration. Author Kelsey Timmerman has spoken at close to 100 schools around the globe about his first book, Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour of the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes He has been featured in the Financial Times and has discussed social issues on NPR's Talk of the Nation and Fox News Radio Where Am I Eating? does not argue for or against the globalization of food, but personalizes it by observing the hope and opportunity, and sometimes the lack thereof, which the global food economy gives to the world's poorest producers.