Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Orangutan heaven

This Shit Is Bananas

I can't stop thinking about bananas you guys. My housemate made this amazing banana bread with chocolate chips in it last night and I grew sad, very sad indeed. For we could be on the brink of a major banana shortage of epic proportions not witnessed since our grandfolks had to suffer the blight of the Gros Michel!

Or maybe I just take New York Times articles too seriously, but they had this dude who wrote an entire book about bananas write an article on the state of the fruit, and his prognosis of the Cavendish's future isn't looking so good my friends:

"The Cavendish is the fruit equivalent of a fast-food hamburger: efficient to produce, uniform in quality and universally affordable.

But there’s a difference between a banana and a Big Mac: The banana is a living organism. It can get sick, and since bananas all come from the same gene pool, a virulent enough malady could wipe out the world’s commercial banana crop in a matter of years.

This has happened before. Our great-grandparents grew up eating not the Cavendish but the Gros Michel banana, a variety that everyone agreed was tastier. But starting in the early 1900s, banana plantations were invaded by a fungus called Panama disease and vanished one by one. Forest would be cleared for new banana fields, and healthy fruit would grow there for a while, but eventually succumb.

By 1960, the Gros Michel was essentially extinct and the banana industry nearly bankrupt. It was saved at the last minute by the Cavendish, a Chinese variety that had been considered something close to junk: inferior in taste, easy to bruise (and therefore hard to ship) and too small to appeal to consumers. But it did resist the blight.

Over the past decade, however, a new, more virulent strain of Panama disease has begun to spread across the world, and this time the Cavendish is not immune. The fungus is expected to reach Latin America in 5 to 10 years, maybe 20. The big banana companies have been slow to finance efforts to find either a cure for the fungus or a banana that resists it. Nor has enough been done to aid efforts to diversify the world’s banana crop by preserving little-known varieties of the fruit that grow in Africa and Asia.

In recent years, American consumers have begun seeing the benefits — to health, to the economy and to the environment — of buying foods that are grown close to our homes. Getting used to life without bananas will take some adjustment. What other fruit can you slice onto your breakfast cereal?

But bananas have always been an emblem of a long-distance food chain. Perhaps it’s time we recognize bananas for what they are: an exotic fruit that, some day soon, may slip beyond our reach."


I mean, I keep hearing all this crap about corn shortages and really, I could care less if I never see another bag of popcorn in the theaters or if the Tamale Lady can't afford to sling tamales anymore (I am sorry but I had a bad experience with her veggie tamale the other night, I don't want to talk about it).

This morning my iGoogle aggregator aggregated the hell out of the internets to provide me with this priceless gem:

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How to Grow Banana Plants

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"Bananas not only contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium, but they're also widely enjoyed as snacks, desserts, and even in meals. Depending on where you live, however, the bananas you find in stores may have been shipped halfway around the world, after having been picked green and placed in air-tight rooms filled with ethylene gas to hasten ripening. To avoid this, you may be able to grow your own banana plant in your backyard, perhaps even experiment with varieties that produce fruit with better flavor rather than shelf life."

Think about it. That is all.
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