We’ve had some questions recently about the availability and rising cost of bananas in the grocery store. We’ve still been able to provide bananas to those clients who want them, but I thought it was a good time to talk about bananas both as a fruit and as an economic reality.
Bananas as fruit: Bananas are complicated. Banana “fruit-trees” are actually giant herbs. Their “trunks” are formed from layers of leaves that wrap onto themselves. Bunches of bananas grow upside down in stalks. There are many varieties of bananas. The variety that is most readily available is called the Cavendish. Cavendish bananas are seedless (actually the seeds are sterile) and re-growth depends on the banana plant creating rhizomes which emerge from the base of the original plant. Humans cultivate this fruit by replanting the cuttings from the re-growth. Because of disease, there is a genuine possibility that in our lifetime banana blight may kill off these fruits. A few banana facts: Bananas have a natural antacid effect. Bananas help the body produce serotonin. Bananas are high in vitamin B. Bananas are also high in iron and can help stimulate the production of hemoglobin. I like to dress in a banana suit for fun.
Bananas in the economy: The upside down nature of the banana itself is appropriate when talking about the banana industry, which has a well documented and checkered history at best. Labor, land use, and political manipulations are a very real part of this fruit’s history and reality. Today, Bananas can still affect world economics and turn things on their head. As one banana importer, we talked with explained about the current situation: “We used to get at least a boatload a week filled with bananas and now we are barely seeing one boat every two or three weeks. It’s the shortest banana supply I’ve ever seen.” When we asked him why he said: “the spring floods in Central America killed us, and the weak dollar is driving all the bananas to Europe where they can get more money for them.” We try to use Fair Trade bananas when available and will continue to try and grow this program; however, supply has been hit or miss at best. We can exclude bananas from your crate if you wish.