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Agricultural Propaganda - Bananas are Not Poison

Updated on August 18, 2014

The Banana Room

Ryan and Virden Fruit Company's Banana Room about 1913 in Salt Lake City Utah. [public domain]
Ryan and Virden Fruit Company's Banana Room about 1913 in Salt Lake City Utah. [public domain]

The Alarm and Question

The FDA announces that bananas cause 300,000 deaths yearly. Do you stop eating them?

Initially, the government plans to pull them off the market, but are convinced not to by lobbyists who point out that cigarettes and alcohol cause at least that many deaths, yet are still sold.

---asked by the HubPages writer Chasuk

Food Politics

I had thought that the Politics Of the Banana had ended in the 1950s with the propaganda published entitled "The Kremlin Hates Bananas." This was project of the United Fruit Company designed to help import more bananas from Central and South America to the United States. It worked and that's fine with me, because later, in my childhood I always enjoyed apples, oranges, and bananas.

My father had loved apples on the farm and oranges from the Saturday farmers' market in the early 1900s. During the Great Depression, my mother enjoyed bowls of orange sections and cut up bananas as an inexpensive but delicious treat. Grapes. Sometimes there had been grapes and there was watermelon and cantaloupe in the summer for both parents. My father did not see many bananas in his youth and few were imported to the US at that time.

A watermelon rolled after me across the floor when I was five, because I thought it was a striped animal and pet it - I never did find its face. That's funnier than any banana story I have, but I always had bananas as a child.

Regardless, bananas were the centerpiece to 1950s import-export propaganda designed to build fruit business in America. Sixty years later, the FDA wants to issue warnings about them? With advancing research each month and the discovery of additional food allergies, this may be valid. However, the bananas are not harming consumers as the question above suggests.


The Game Is Afoot

I've heard about the farmers or government agents of the 1950s pouring milk and coffee into the Gulf of Mexico to drive up prices (Is that was the BP oil Gulf fiasco really was, some ask). Then I head about Maraschino Cherries being proclaimed poisonous and carcinogens by the FDA; but that was reversed and the red-dyed cherries were put back on the grocers' shelves.

In the last 1960s, one of my teachers went to Hawaii on vacation and was hospitalized with what she called Pineapple Poisoning (we were afraid of pineapples for a few days). Actually, it was 'Vitamin C Poisoning,' because she ingested too much food and beverage containing Vitamin C and citric acid.

The research shows that

1) the banana itself does not kill 300,000 people a year and

2) the deaths do not occur in the USA.

1940s Disney Banana Commercial for Chiquita

Produced by Disney Studios for movie houses. The voice of Chiquita belongs to MONICA LEWIS, aged 88 in 2010:

How Does a Banana Kill?

  1. An "overdose" of bananas could refer to an overdose of potassium, an electrolyte necessary in cardiac function. An oversupply could affect the heart negatively, as can a shortage of potassium. Both might cause death, but not 300,000 of them per year.
  2. Slip-and-fall injuries can also kill, a few of them caused by banana peels.
  3. A few persons are allergic to bananas, which can result in death.
  4. Some adults, children, and infants choke on bananas and die; but not 300,000 a year.
  5. Pesticides used on bananas and other food crops have killed 300,000 of agricultural workers yearly (Jeff Potter, Cooking For Geeks , page 138; O'Reilly Media, Inc., July 2010). This seems to occur in countries outside of the USA.

NOTE: The banana skins could be washed off before the consumer peels them, to add extra safety. The pesticides do not seem to penetrate through the layer of skin and into the flesh of the fruit to hurt the consumer. All fruits and vegetables should be washed at home before consuming. As for the injured workers harmed by bananas, I suggest United Nations sanctions against those nations.

Interesting video footage here shows us how US companies dealing in bananas have set up governments, funded terrorist projects, and gone clandestine via CIA channels. All this connected to the banana! Anything can be misappropriated for evil - stop buying bananas and operations will likely shift to another product or service. I am more concerned about human trafficking.

However, I don't purchase Chiquita bananas. They are highly advertised and high cost. They seem to be the brand most harmful, because of pesticides. I purchase other brands or other varieties of fruits. 

60 Minutes Analysis of Banana Politics

1954, Guatemala - CIA and United Fruit Company

Bananas and Pesticides - Related Diseases and Conditions

Safer Bananas


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    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 7 years ago from Houston TX

      This is my first time of hearing this because i believe that bananas is one of the best fruit which i enjoy eating.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Crazy but true. I just discovered the name Dole in another case, and I have to dig more out about that before I add it. Amazing, the games played with food.

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

      OMG!-that commercial, cute! OMG!-funded terrorists projects! OMG-the pesticides and how much death they caused. That is the ultimate enemy. The chemicals. I can understand, how some may end up with too much potassium in their system and agree it does not seem logical that it came from bananas. Never knew 'bananas' was such a hot topic. Voted and rated.

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 7 years ago from New York

      I never knew this one, but hey, the 'news' anymore is sorely lacking if facts so I'm not surprised. Good information here.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS


    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 7 years ago from Florida

      I eat banannas evry day and have for years. They are a great source of vitimans and are a healthy snack. I have never heard anything negative before this. Very interesting.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      My friend, this is really new for me and I never knew about this before. Thanks for share about the fact. I agree with you that by giving pesticides too much in fruit gave bad effects. I am glad to follow your tips in your final note. I get complete information here. Rating up!


    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      So many good comments that I am flabbergasted! All of you have so much insight and logical views that I am sure that HubPages people can make the world a better place.

      And I am more glad now that I buy organic and other non-Chiquita bananas after reading all your comments,

      And corn? Yes, more corn and also drink the corn syrup probably; and use the new plastic bottles (of spring water) made from corn that disintegrate. That last might not be a bad idea.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 7 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I'm a lawyer. I say no more bananas until they can be made safe.

      (seriously though - what has this world come to???)

    • rmr profile image

      rmr 7 years ago from Livonia, MI

      Patty, I had no idea bananas were so steeped in controversy. I had also never heard of banana propaganda.

      It seems that I'm always a little smarter for having read one of your hubs.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Hurrah! Good for you Patti. A great hub on the safety of bananas. Bananas are one of the most perfect foods. I say, use common sense and go right ahead and enjoy bananas. Loved the "chiquita Banana" video. Thanks, Patti.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Tha Filipino version of Chiquita Banana, is Juanita Banana--currently running soap at ABS-CBN CHannel 2. I must say, those doomsayers don't have the hearts like that of bananas.

    • Sunnyglitter profile image

      Sunnyglitter 7 years ago from Cyberspace

      This was very interesting. I enjoy articles like this a lot. I think the government just wants us to eat corn all day. :)

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 7 years ago from USA

      Patty - This all goes to the point that too much regulation can be a real killer.

      Gus :-)))

    • zmejias profile image

      zmejias 7 years ago from NY

      Hello Patty,

      All propaganda have behind an interest, perhaps monetary or not. Bananas never kill any one I know, I was born and raised eating them, in my country they grow in the back yard like the apples trees here.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I had not heard any of this who ha. I do know that eating vast amounts of bananas is bad for you, too much potassium, but then this is true of most things

    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 7 years ago from Arizona

      Sounds like the "Banana Wars" that led to FDR's "Good Neighbor Policy" in the '30's all over again. Interesting point bringing up the similarity of the BP spill and human trafficing, you have a gift of "comparisons! I will continue to eat my banana every morning.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      But will UN santion it? I doubt it because there is too much money involve. The 'great' Chemical Industrie would loose too much and I am sure they see to that it won't happened. I believe there are 18 different pesticides on apples. I don't know if it true. If it is then they are really evil to play around with our and our children's health.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Yeah 'soy bananas' here we come. "Yum"

      Absolutely nothing on our food chain is safe from manipulation of some sort. Everything needs to be grown bigger, faster, better, prettier, longer lasting, available not just in growing seasons, but 365 days a year. For this we (humans) start mixing our potions of poisonous carcinogens, chemicals, pesticides and what-nots to make it all happen... with what results? Here is another example of just that. Unfortunately there is nothing left that is not touched by "agriculturally acceptable" poisons. Nothing is left safe for the field workers or consumers alike.

      The banana is again or still misappropriated for evil, next it will be the strawberry,... it hasn't been decided yet what the flavour of the month will be after that...

      As you have pointed out Patty it's the pesticides used on the bananas and worldwide on ALL other food crops that is harming and killing us

      Super great hub as always

      hope you're well


    • Craan profile image

      Sheila Craan 7 years ago from Florida

      This propaganda is typical of the FDA, creating lies that hurt the public in order to line the pocketbooks of the lobbies!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      You miss the point, st. Deaths outside the USA are not in the jurisdiction of the US FDA. Purchasing organic is not enough to end those deaths, but UN sanctions added to that consumer action will be more effective.

    • surf traveler profile image

      surf traveler 7 years ago

      Hi Patty, it is because of the harmful effects of the pesticides to the workers that I choose to purchase organic bananas. Just because the deaths and illnesses seem to happen outside of the USA does not make them any less important.

    • Hovalis profile image

      Hovalis 7 years ago from Australia

      I'd be more worried about a shortage of bananas than them killing me. I had no idea that there was a campaign against them. Perhaps some food researcher somewhere has discovered a way to make an artificial banana out of corn and now one of the big food companies is looking for a way to ensure the competition is diminished. I love a good conspiracy theory, I must say.

      Thanks for the excellent article, as usual, Patty.

    • carrie450 profile image

      carrie450 7 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

      I eat a banana every day for breakfast with yogurt and it hasn't hurt me yet. This hub was an eye opener though. Thanks for sharing this Patty.

    • chinemeremz profile image

      chinemeremz 7 years ago

      I wonder why this propaganda and a campaign of hate against one of Nature's gift to man.

      If can still remember, bananas are always recommended for some one convalescing so how come it now a killer instead of the life saver we've known it to be.

      Thanks for this expose and academic discourse. It was really nice reading.