To a locavore (one who eats only local food), the banana is the ultimate insult. It's a piece of fruit that has traveled thousands of miles in a refrigerated container, was picked long before reaching peak ripeness, is available in only one variety, and costs next to nothing.
I stopped buying bananas in January when I began learning about the value of eating local food, but then when we joined Costco, I honestly couldn't resist the cheap fruit. I mean, $1.41 for a huge bunch of perfectly ripe, non-bruised bananas? I've been withholding Chilean and Mexican-grown grapes from my kids, waiting for some American grapes to hit the shelves, but I knew I'd never get domestically-grown bananas, so I gave in. Now, here I sit, eating a banana and typing this post. How ironic.
I've been thinking about reading the book, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, by Dan Koeppel, but I really didn't think I could handle it. I knew that if I read the book, it would mean crossing bananas, one of Callie's staple foods, off my grocery list. Between the ridiculously poor treatment of banana workers (which I've known about since my Latin American Studies class in 1997 but chose to ignore) and the amount of fuel required to get bananas to Colorado Springs, Colorado...I just know that I shouldn't be buying bananas. But, still, $1.41?
When I saw this op-ed piece in the New York Times today by Dan Koeppel, I thought, "Okay...maybe I won't read the whole book, I'll just read this little article. This one little article. How much damage can that do?" We'll...I've crossed bananas off my grocery list. It's either got to happen now or 5-20 years from now. According to Koeppel, that's how long bananas will be available in our grocery stores before they return to being the "exotic fruit" that they should be.