Inside the Banana Market

A great reported essay by Nicola Twilley about a banana distribution facility in the Bronx. Excerpt:

[I]n order to be a global commodity rather than a tropical treat, the banana has to be harvested and transported while completely unripe. Bananas are cut while green, hard, and immature, washed in cool water (both to begin removing field heat and to stop them from leaking their natural latex), and then held at 56 degrees — originally in a refrigerated steamship; today, in a refrigerated container — until they reach their country of consumption weeks later.

What this means is that ripening must then be artificially induced, in a specialized architecture of pressurized, temperature- and atmosphere-controlled rooms that fool the banana into thinking it is still back on the plant in tropical Ecuador. New York City’s supermarkets, grocers, coffee-shops, and food cart vendors are served by just a handful of banana ripening outfits — one in Brooklyn, one in Long Island, a small facility inside the main Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, and our field trip destination: Banana Distributors of New York, in the Bronx.

You should at least read her whole essay before you chime in with “There’s always money in the banana stand.” More banana reading here; and Rich Cohen has a forthcoming book called The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King — a.k.a. Samuel Zemurray.


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  1. 164 says:

    Having read the article as instructed, I’m now in the position to state (along with countless others) “there’s always money in the banana stand”.

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  2. Pete says:

    There’s always money in the bana….. sorry.

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  3. cjones says:

    The most comprehensive article on bananas appeared in Smithsonian Magazine a few years ago. In just five pages you learn why Americans only eat one of 1200 varieties (the Cavenish), how to propagate a plant that produces no seeds or pollen (Cavenishes are all genetically identical) and that bananas don’t grow on trees!

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    • frankenduf says:

      isnt it also the case that due to the genetic engineering, that bananas may go extinct due to insidious fungus?!

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  4. Taylor Mwale says:

    Here, in Malawi we produce quality, tasty bananas. Will you assist in finding market for them?

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