Love bananas? You are not alone! Bananas are the most widely consumed fruit in the North American and Europe, but do you know what goes into the cultivation of a banana before it arrives at your home? If you’d like to learn, join us in the community space at the Peace & Justice Center on Sunday, October 8th at 3:00pm for our Banana Industry Presentation! All are invited to attend a New Volunteer Orientation at 2:30pm before the event.

In the meantime, if you aren’t able to come Saturday, but would like to learn more about bananas, stop by the store to pick up the book Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America by Dana Frank (see review), or check out more resources below!

 

Book Review:

Bananeras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America

Book reviewed by Kristen Connors

This slim little book by Dana Frank gives an account of the powerful female voices within the unions that organize workers in large banana plantations owned by Chiquita, Dole and Del Monte. Since gender equity and female empowerment are key principles in the Fair Trade movement, it may be somewhat surprising to find this novel focuses on banana workers outside the Fair Trade movement. Indeed, since only a small percentage of bananas are produced according to Fair Trade standards, this book actually depicts the lives and struggles of the majority of female workers employed in the banana industry.

Women in the banana industry are in essence fighting two separate battles. They are working to improve the working conditions and the lives of their brothers and sisters on the banana plantation through intensive labor and solidarity organizing across the region, and they are simultaneously attempting to combat and dismantle systemic sexism and gender discrimination in their own unions and communities. Female leadership in banana unions is fairly scarce and hardly ever extends into the upper structures of union governance. Women active in their unions have reported feeling unsupported and in many cases are actively discouraged by men in the union and their families.

It was incredibly inspiring to read about the achievements of these women despite the systemic oppression and institutional barriers they face every day in their fight for a better world. This book is accessible to all adults; no background in social justice, the banana industry, or labor history is needed to fully appreciate these stories of human struggle, sacrifice, and victory.

Banana Resources:

Equal Exchange: Beyond the Peel

Movie: Bananaland: Blood, Bullets, and Poison

 

-Kristen Connors

PJC Volunteer & Assistant Store Manager