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Bananas ripen for all sorts of reasons. Squeeze a banana too hard and it will turn within days, instead of weeks. Ditto, if it is nicked or dented. And then ripening is contagious. A ripe banana will cause those around it to ripen and soon you have a whole shipload ruined while it is still on the high seas, chugging along west of the Azores, still weeks before it can dock at Marseilles.

In the late 1800s, before refrigeration came along, as high as 15% of a shipment ended up as ripes by the time the ships were unloading at the wharf in the US. A ripe is perfectly okay if you intend to eat it within the next seven days but the distribution system in place those days was a slow one. Freight trains traveled at a crawling pace and loading and unloading was labor intensive, nearly always done by hand, by work details of Chinese or Mexican migrants…..

Click here (or go to the ‘War’ tab on top of the page)….. Sam, the Banana Man