but, what about the bananas?!

7 Feb

Oh bananas.

You are so wonderful. Your crazy peel sometimes makes you impossible to open, but it’s always worth the wait. Some people may not like you when you are mushy, but I’m not biased. I’ll take you as you are.

Your creamy insides make wonderful smoothies, overnight oatmeal, and “ice cream”. Your taste brightens and warms the best gluten free bread I’ve ever had and your sweet sugar power an athlete through exercise. And don’t forget your nutritional information. I mean, let’s face it, your the poster-child for a potassium super star.

Truly, you are amazing.

I’ve been thinking about bananas a lot lately and if you’ve checked out our What Are We Reading? page lately, you would have seen that I have been reading Banana by Dan Koeppel.

This is probably the reason for my current obsession with them lately. And as I mentioned before, I’ve had the best banana bread EVER this past month, so the thought of that is also still dancing around in my head and tickling my taste buds.

Despite those wonderful banana-y thoughts, I will warn you this post is slightly political in nature and if you think that I’m on a soap box, well I’m not. I’m merely on a “concerned” orange 60’s-style dinette chair, so deal with it.

I must admit that Banana was hard to get through. The cover said “fast-paced” but there we so many names and places and different scientists that it was hard to keep track and it bounced around a lot. In turn, it took me a little over a month to get through240 pages. Either way, the information in this book really rocked me.

Here’s the thing: most people are not aware that the bananas we eat today have created hardship, death, suffering, extreme heath problems for the people involved with producing them, and civil rights faux pax at its worst. The indigenous people of the countries OUR bananas are grown in (Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, etc) have been exploited in the worst ways possible.

Why is this? Well it turns out that bananas are fickle beasts. They are shipped to America in specially made ships from all parts of the world, mainly South America, and then put in elaborate ripening rooms, then are delivered to our grocery stores so that they are in there no more than 7 days. They are there to un-green and  fully ripen and then be bought or thrown out because they are “too” brown, or in my opinion just a little speckled. It’s a short amount of time in our stores for a lot of work. Bananas of the world are also being attacked by all sorts of diseases and bacterium. There are two that are particularly catastrophic and that affects both the bananas we put in our smoothies and the people who live off them to survive throughout the world. These diseases could virtually wipe out the worlds’ supply of bananas at an alarming rate.

To combat one of these diseases, the banana companies spray the bananas with a very toxic chemical. The workers who do the spraying have extremely high risks of getting cancer among other horrible fate’s and most certainly completely sterile. Not to mention they are already poor and many times have been forced to either work the plantations or be shot to death.

You really should read this book to find out more about the back story on all that these people have endured just so we could have bananas here. It is disgusting and it really further shows how selfish and money-hungry we can be as a nation.

There is so much more to this story but it is looking like there are two options. Either America quits eating bananas so the workers in the plantations do not have to meet such a high quota to fill our needs and they can just grow them to support their own, or we have to start developing a genetically modified banana that will be resistant to these diseases.

Immediately the thought of genetically modified (GMO) bananas sickens me. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve learned how farmers are indebted and locked in to governmental mandates because of these GMO’s. But the author provides the notion that because of the banana’s intricacies, there is little-to-no issues with this idea as there are with the GMO’s we think of here in America. It still remains to be seen how GMO’s affect the people who eat them, but one of the main scientists behind the GMO banana believes that with his work, there is no risk.

So, either we give up bananas or we try “test-tube” bananas.

It’s a quandary and kind of upsetting to me.

I really do love bananas and as a selfish American who has been raised to believe we absolutely NEED bananas (especially with oatmeal), which was in all reality the workings of Chiquita and Dole marketing, I don’t want to give up bananas!

Apparently conditions of workers have improved over the years, but countries have been destroyed by the banana companies. Families were decimated, lives were ruined. All for fruit? Is a creamier smoothie really worth it?

Or should we try a GMO banana? The author tasted a few. He said they were good. Different, but good. We’ve already adapted to a change in banana type once in our country’s history, why couldn’t we do it again? We already have PLENTY of GMO’s in this country. The author cited that in 2000, 90% of the corn American’s ate was bioengineered. Wow. And that was 11 years ago. Why not go ahead and try a bioengineered banana that supposedly has minimal risks? There are countries, especially in Africa, where countries almost completely rely on bananas for their food. If their food supply is wiped out by these diseases, doesn’t it make sense to start growing these resistant bananas to help them from starving?

On the flip side, do you know that Europe has outlawed any GMO’s from being produced in their country? If any product that contains GMO’s makes it into their markets , they simply don’t buy them. In fact they run from them. And isn’t it true that Europeans are generally more healthier than we are as Americans? A study released last Friday from the medical journal Lancelet, showed that American’s are averaging the highest BMI worldwide whereas the BMI’s in countries like France, Italy, Finland and Switzerland have not changed at all. If they won’t touch them, should we?

This is all very upsetting to me. The other night, after I was done reading this book, I mooked around our apartment with a very grumpy demeanor.

Also at the beginning of the book, I kept thinking, if the banana is in such a dire situation, how come we have not seen the affects of this at the market? Low supply of bananas, higher prices, etc. Well towards the end of the book, I was going to pick up some bananas at the store and the price had gone up $.06/lb. and a lengthy sign was posted about how the store was apologizing for the poor quality of bananas as of recent and that the weather in the providing countries was making it hard to provide the bananas we all expect. Hmmmm….

Is it really weather? I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t. I haven’t heard much about worldwide weather lately, all I know is that it has been cold cold cold here. It is the diseases? Has the banana begun it’s disappearance from our produce section?

What do you guys think? Should we give up bananas as a country or should we try a GMO banana?

Have you noticed banana price changes/declining quality where you live recently? I’m really curious! Please share!

And read this book! (if you’re interested)

All I know is the bananas have gone up another 4 cents and I’m considering buying the whole table at the store to freeze and hoard.

Just in case 😉



2 Responses to “but, what about the bananas?!”

  1. Nathan Tipple February 8, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    See…being allergic is not a bad thing…

    • Kaleigh February 9, 2011 at 9:49 am #

      Ha, yes! That definitely takes the decision part out of it for ya!

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