The banana is the world’s most important fresh fruit commodity. Little more than a century old, the global banana industry began in the late 1880s, as a result of technological advances such as refrigerated shipping, which facilitated the transportation of this highly perishable good to distant markets. Since its inception the banana industry has been fraught with controversy, exhibiting many of the issues underlying the basic global economic relations that first emerged in the era of European colonialism. Perhaps more than any other agricultural product, the banana reflects the evolution of the world economy. At each stage changes in the global economy manifested themselves in the economic geography of banana production and trade. This remains true today as neoliberal imperatives drive the globalization process and mandate freer trade, influencing the patterns of the transatlantic banana trade. The Banana demystifies the banana trade and its path toward globalization.
Cocoa and Chocolate,1765-1914 focuses on the period from the Seven Years War, to the First World War, when a surge of economic liberalism and globalisation should have helped cocoa producers to overcome rural poverty, just as wool transformed the economy of Australia, and tea that of Japan. The addition of new forms of chocolate to Western diets in the late nineteenth century led to a great cocoa boom, and yet economic development remained elusive, despite cocoa producers having certain advantages in the commodity lottery faced by exporters of raw materials. The commodity chain, from sowing a cocoa bean to enjoying a cup of hot chocolate, is examined in Cocoa and Chocolate, 1765-1914 under the broad rubrics of chocolate consumption, the taxation of cocoa beans, the manufacture of chocolate, private marketing channels, land distribution, ecological impact on tropical forests, and the coercion of labour. Cocoa and Chocolate, 1765-1914 concludes that cocoa failed to act as a dynamo for development.
Once known as a sweet indulgence for children on Halloween and for sweethearts on Valentine's Day, in recent years chocolate has become a high-end (and year-round) delicacy with more and more exotic chocolates turning up on menus and in shops everywhere. But as giant chocolate makers and artisan chocolatiers alike take chocolate in sumptuous new directions to meet the demand of ever more discerning consumers, the dark history of this much-loved confection remains largely unknown. Bitter Chocolate traces the fascinating origins of chocolate from the banquet table of Montezuma's sixteenth-century Aztec court to the bustling factories of Hershey, Cadbury, and Mars today. Carol Off, an award-winning investigative journalist, tells the engaging stories of the visionary entrepreneurs who founded these companies and helped fuel our insatiable appetite for chocolate by revolutionizing its production.
This book recasts the so-called coffee paradox - the coexistence of a coffee boom in consuming countries and of a coffee crisis in producing countries. While coffee bar chains have expanded rapidly in consuming countries, international coffee prices have fallen dramatically and producers receive the lowest prices in decades. The paradox exists because what farmers sell and what consumers buy are increasingly different coffees. It is not material quality that contemporary coffee consumers pay for, it is mostly symbolic quality and in-person services. As long as coffee farmers and their organizations do not control at least parts of this immaterial production, they will keep receiving low prices."
Fair trade is a fast-growing alternative market intended to bring better prices and greater social justice to small farmers around the world. But is it working? This vivid study of coffee farmers in Mexico offers the first thorough investigation of the social, economic, and environmental benefits of fair trade. Based on extensive research in Zapotec indigenous communities in the state of Oaxaca, Brewing Justice follows the members of the cooperative Michiza, whose organic coffee is sold on the international fair trade market. It compares these families to conventional farming families in the same region, who depend on local middlemen and are vulnerable to the fluctuations of the world coffee market.
Americans began chewing gum long before 1850, scraping resin from spruce trees, removing any bits of bark or insects and chewing the finished product. Commercially-made gum was of limited availability and came in three types--tree resin, pretroleum-based paraffin and chicle-based--the latter, a natural latex, ultimately eclipsing its rivals by 1920. Once considered a women-only bad habit, chewing gum grew in popularity and was indulged in by all segments of society. The gum industry tried vigorously to export the habit, but it proved uniquely American and would not stick abroad. This book examines the chewing gum industry in America from 1850 to 1920, the rise and spread of gum chewing and the reactions--almost uniformly negative--to the habit from editorial writers, reformers, religious figures, employers and the courts. The age-old problem of what to do with chewed gum--some saved it in lockets around their neck; some shared it with friends--is also covered.
Although Juicy Fruit gum was introduced to North Americans in 1893, Native Americans in Mesoamerica were chewing gum thousands of years earlier. And although in the last decade "biographies" have been devoted to salt, spices, chocolate, coffee, and other staples of modern life, until now there has never been a full history of chewing gum. Chicle is a history in four acts, all of them focused on the sticky white substance that seeps from the sapodilla tree when its bark is cut. First, Jennifer Mathews recounts the story of chicle and its earliest-known adherents, the Maya and Aztecs. Second, with the assistance of botanist Gillian Schultz, Mathews examines the sapodilla tree itself, an extraordinarily hardy plant that is native only to Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. Third, Mathews presents the fascinating story of the chicle and chewing gum industry over the last hundred plus years, a tale (like so many twentieth-century tales) of greed, growth, and collapse. In closing, Mathews considers the plight of the chicleros, the "extractors" who often work by themselves tapping trees deep in the forests, and how they have emerged as icons of local pop culture--portrayed as fearless, hard-drinking brawlers, people to be respected as well as feared. Before Dentyne and Chiclets before bubble gum comic strips and the Doublemint twins, there was gum, oozing from jungle trees like melting candle wax under the slash of a machete. Chicle tells us everything that happened next. It is a spellbinding story.
isrupting Maize undertakes a critical interrogation of maize, the staple food and symbol of the Mexican nation. As the centre of origin and genetic diversification of maize, the Mexican territory is regarded today as being under threat of irreversible ‘contamination’ by genetically engineered maize, an imported biotechnological product. When the first evidences of such ‘contamination’ were found in 2001, an anti-GM movement was born that quickly became articulated as a defence of cultural identity and national sovereignty.
Disrupting Maize mobilizes contemporary theoretical resources in a critical examination of the cultural politics at work in the Mexican defence of maize. From such an examination ‘biotechnological disruption’ emerges provocatively as constitutive of Mexican nationalism rather than externally imposed to it by corporate players.
In "The Deepest Wounds," Thomas D. Rogers traces social and environmental changes over four centuries in Pernambuco, Brazil's key northeastern sugar-growing state. Focusing particularly on the period from the end of slavery in 1888 to the late twentieth century, when human impact on the environment reached critical new levels, Rogers confronts the day-to-day world of farming--the complex, fraught, and occasionally poetic business of making sugarcane grow. Renowned Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre, whose home state was Pernambuco, observed, "Monoculture, slavery, and latifundia--but principally monoculture--they opened here, in the life, the landscape, and the character of our people, the deepest wounds." Inspired by Freyre's insight, Rogers tells the story of Pernambuco's wounds, describing the connections among changing agricultural technologies, landscapes and human perceptions of them, labor practices, and agricultural and economic policy. This web of interrelated factors, Rogers argues, both shaped economic progress and left extensive environmental and human damage. Combining a study of workers with analysis of their landscape, Rogers offers new interpretations of crucial moments of labor struggle, casts new light on the role of the state in agricultural change, and illuminates a legacy that influences Brazil's development even today.
Sugar examines the complex world of international commerce by looking at the major players in the sugar industry -- European and African farmers, major sugar production companies on both continents, experts and officials. The report shows how decisions made at distant international meetings affect the lives of individuals. Antonio Maolela cuts sugar cane on a plantation in Mozambique. He earns about two euros a day working from dawn til dusk. Honorio Valdunciel is a farmer from Zamora, Spain whose main source of income comes from growing sugar beet. Though he makes a decent income, it requires hard work and much investment. The future of both men is tied to the controversial price of sugar in world markets. Sugar prices in the European Union and the U.S. are highly protected by tariffs which block competition. Their internal price of sugar is three times higher than international market prices because beet sugar is much more expensive than cane sugar. Paradoxically, Europe is the world s biggest exporter of sugar because of subsidies. This lowers world market prices and makes things even harder for more efficient Third World producers. Many southern countries, organizations and NGOs have publicly denounced what they see as unfair international trade rules which favor the rich.
A Pueblo Divided tells the story of the violent privatization of communal land in Papantla, a Mexican Indian village transformed by the fast growth of vanilla production and exports in the late nineteenth century. The demise of communal landholding, long identified as one of the leading causes of the Revolution of 1910, is one of the grand motifs of Mexico's modern history. It is also, surprisingly, one of the least researched. This is the first study of the process of village land privatization in Mexico. It describes how a complex interplay of commercial, political, demographic, fiscal, and legal pressures led to social strife, rebellion, and finally parcelization. Disproving long-held assumptions that indigenous villagers were passive participants in the process, the author shows that they actually played a crucial role in the subdivision of communal property. Papantla's story is at odds with prevailing stereotypes of pueblo history, and thus points to the need for a broad reexamination of the causes, process, and consequences of rural social change in pre-revolutionary Mexico.
Vanilla is a legacy of Mexico and, like chocolate, it is a major global delicacy representing almost a half-billion Euros in profits each year. Written under the editorial guidance of renowned field authorities Drs. Eric Odoux and Michel Grisoni, Vanilla presents up-to-date reviews on the cultivation, curing, and uses of vanilla. It provides unique and comprehensive coverage of the biology of the vanilla vine, the properties of its aromatic beans, and production processes worldwide. Written by 45 International Experts with Vast Experience in their Respective Fields This globally relevant resource discusses biotechnology aimed at finding novel production methods of vanilla and horticultural studies for improving yields and increasing plant resistance. It analyzes entomological issues related to pollination, studies on the chemistry and biochemistry of the curing process, and the advanced analytical chemistry needed to identify adulterations such as vanillin-spiked pods and synthetic vanillin. It also explores the relationship between fruit development anatomy and flavor quality. Vanilla is a universally appreciated flavor that is consumed worldwide. This book will no doubt serve for many years to come as the definitive resource on the topic and the standard reference for those interested in this delicate crop, including producers, flavorists, researchers, and consumers.