Why are bananas so cheap?
The “cheapness” of bananas is directly linked to a system of production based on monocultures — dense plantings of a single crop. Monocultures are a way to organize plants and people for profit, not for sustenance. Big harvests of inexpensive bananas are enabled by technology, including plant breeding, fertilizers and pesticides, but also low-wage, often contracted labor in both fields and packing plants. Living in an era of biodiversity loss and mass migration from Central America, we need to ask ourselves: is the true cost of bananas reflected in their retail price?
How has consuming a banana in the global north affected the banana-producing regions of Central America?
Eating bananas—lots of them!—in wealthy nations has had an astonishing array of ecological impacts on banana-growing countries for more than a century: deforestation, soil and water contamination, and the spread of plant pathogens. Pesticide exposures have damaged the health of workers and others. These problems in turn have given rise to social movements led by workers, farmers, students, and others calling for environmental justice.