Dr. Adam Fajardo is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College, where he teaches courses in American literature, modernism, and composition. He is co-editor of Modernism and Food Studies (University of Florida Press, 2019).
While the supply chains for certain foods, such as spices, tea, or coffee, operated on a global scale for centuries, it was not until the early twentieth century that imported perishable foods, like bananas, became widely available to US consumers of all socio-economic classes. Bananas belong to a class of imported tropical foods that were absorbed into the US diet and foodways during the modernist era, changing from “their” foods to “our” foods in ways that parallel changing attitudes toward tropical countries during the early stages of US expansionism into the Caribbean, Hawaii, and the Philippines. In this regard, bananas are not a unique commodity, but they are quite important in that the history of US and corporate neocolonialism in Latin America is inexorably linked to the banana trade, as numerous studies have pointed out. Attending to the supply chains for these imported foods offers scholars the opportunity to weigh their figurative value against the power dynamics of their production and often reveals surprising connections between disparate places, people, and texts.