In The Way

Everybody’s just going bananas!

For the first time in my life, I think that people are reading my blog. This is a big deal. I may have underestimated how much ‘traffic’ or ‘hits’ I would receive from one simple Facebook.

This is exciting. More importantly, this forces real thought for the words here, because I know someone besides myself will read it.

I’m doing research for a 25-page paper for my International Human Rights class with J. Norwood, and quickly realizing that everyone is going bananas.

With that, I present you some endearing information about bananas.

As is common in a developed nation such as the United States, we have very little knowledge as to where food comes from.

The documentary Super Size Me raised some questions about this with some terrifying information about chickens, questioning what parts of the chicken are used.

However, what about bananas?

What do we know about these little guys?

For starters, have you ever noticed that Bananas have no seeds?

According to Dan Koeppel, author of Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, this is because bananas are clones.

Yeah. Clones. Like the cloned sheep of the early nineties, or the kind of clone in Star Wars that are created on a lone planet as rogue bounty hunters. Okay, so maybe not like that. But still, clones? This means that each banana is genetically identical to every other banana.

These guys don’t have any bellybuttons, or seeds. Creepy, I know.

The current kind of banana is known as the Cavendish, which is, historically, a relatively recent kind of banana. The old ones that were mass produced tasted better, but much worse to fend off disease. The hundreds of thousands of acres of them throughout Central America died off, requiring the massive banana industry to find another. The result was the Cavendish.

Or how about this: The Arabic word for bananas is banan, which means finger.

Another fun fact: The odds of having a seed in your banana due to cloning? 1 in 10,000.

That’s quite a statistic.

Also, 1/4 of what you spend on a banana goes towards pesticides, that is often harmful to the fieldworkers.

Dole, the world’s largest manufacturer of bananas, was sued by 14,000 workers from Nicaragua because the pesticide chemical nicknamed DBCP, a DOW chemical, was proved to cause sterility in men.

It’s hard not to wonder how many of these bananas I ate.

Now, I don’t mean to hate on the banana industry.

I love to eat bananas, really.

Peanut-butter banana sandwiches, banana-cream pies, nutella-banana sandwhiches, banana splits, banana smoothies, throwing bananas at other cars in MarioKart, eating them whole (including the peel) in front of Jr. high students.  All good things.

Also, banana workers in underdeveloped nations make ‘fair wages’ according to their local law, but local law is often heavily influenced by the banana industry. This means a ‘fair wage’ is actually quite low. Most banana workers are living in situations we would never allow a friend or family member to live in.

Oh, yeah. One of Dole’s leaders, David Murdock, makes over 7 million dollars a year. The president of the company, David Delorenzo makes over two million. Compared to many companies, this isn’t a huge salary. But it’s a big enough difference between the CEO and the worker, to really question the industry.

Some questions that come to mind:

What is the true cost of the things we consume? Who is paying for it? Where is that money going?

Why is it cheaper to purchase bananas from Latin America than apples grown in Michigan?

What is the story behind that piece of fruit?

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3 thoughts on “Everybody’s just going bananas!

  1. David, last Summer I knew you were bananas but had no idea. I am not a fan of the fruit unless its in banana bread. I am enjoying your blog and I hope you will visit mine from time to time. Have a great day.

  2. Really interesting thoughts. I never knew any of that.

  3. Alyssa on said:

    David – like previously said I’m enthralled that you’re learning so much about bananas… you know the eco-village in Guat? They emailed me and guess what they grow there? Bananas!!! Betcha they’re not even cloned. And bananas certainly used to have seeds… Now if we plant that peel in a compost pile nothing except mold will grow :O

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