Fair Bananas! Farmers, Workers, and Consumers Strive to Change an Industry


Bananas are the most-consumed fruit in the world. In the United States alone, the public eats about twenty-eight pounds of bananas per person every year. The total value of the international banana trade is nearly five billion dollars annually, with 80 percent of all exported bananas originating in Latin America. There are as many as ten million people involved in growing, packing, and shipping bananas, but American consumers have only recently begun to think about the people and about their working conditions. Although European nations have helped create a "fair trade" system for bananas grown in Mediterranean and Caribbean regions, the United States as a country has not developed a similar system for bananas grown in Latin America, where large corporations have dominated trade for more than a century.

Fair Bananas! is one of the first books to examine the issue of "fair-trade bananas." Specifically, Henry Frundt analyzes whether a farmer-worker-consumer alliance can collaborate to promote a fair-trade label for bananas—much like those for fair-trade coffee and chocolate—that will appeal to North American shoppers. Researching the issue for more than ten years, Henry Frundt has elicited surprising and nuanced insights from banana workers, Latin American labor officials, company representatives, and fair-trade advocates.

Frundt writes with admirable clarity throughout the book, which he has designed for college students who are being introduced to the subject of international trade and for consumers who are interested in issues of development. Frankly, though, Fair Bananas! will appeal to anyone who wants to know more about bananas, including where they come from and how they get from there to here.

Henry J. Frundtis a professor of sociology at Ramapo College in New Jersey. He has served as a Special Expert to the United Nations on sustain­able development (representing the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues) and is the author of Refreshing Pauses: Coca-Cola and Human Rights in Guatemala and Trade Conditions and Labor Rights: U.S. Initiatives, Dominican and Central American Responses.

"This is the first of its kind." —Roger Burbach, author of The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice

"The book has much to say that is of significance as Fair Trade emerges as a possible alternative to existing patterns of world trade." —Mark Moberg, author of Myths of Ethnicity and Nation: Immigration, Work, and Identity in the Belize Banana Industry

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