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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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