Andrew Preston was born in 1846 in Massachusetts. He started his career as a shoe manufacturer. He left his career path when he became ill and went to work for a produce company. He decided to create his own produce business after a short time period.

Andrew and his partner began to import bananas even though few Americans had ever eaten them. They made a huge bet acquiring plantations in Jamaica as well as their own steamships. The challenge of shipping fruit was formidable because of rotting. They had to discover the right time to harvest the bananas, the proper cooling temperature during transport, and the ripening agent that was needed prior to transport to stores.

Initially, the species of banana selected to introduce was wiped out with a fungus. It was replaced by the species that are in markets today.

Another problem was gaining acceptance for bananas. Bananas were marketed for their nutritional value. This effort includes developing manuals for schools.

With the market established and distribution challenges met, the next issue was the authoritarian governments in Central America where bananas were sourced. Bribes were often necessary. Cheap labor was imported. What would be considered inappropriate today was commonplace in what had been called the banana republics.

Today bananas have become the most popular fruit in America. The price of bananas, when inflation is taken into account, is less today than it was years ago.

The low cost of bananas has made them available to virtually all Americans. The health benefits of bananas can be widely accessible in schools, food pantries, and other sources of food support for those who have limited funds. In effect, bananas have become food for democracy.

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            “Smile like a monkey with a new banana.” –  Anonymous

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