Bananas: A slippery slope

Hand silhouette behind banana leaf

“Bananas are the single most profitable item passing through the check-outs in British supermarkets, accounting for 1% of all sales. In the USA, it is estimated that bananas represent 2% of the total turnover of North American grocery retailers.”
- Banana Link, “Supermarkets

You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you’re grocery shopping and something seems too good to be true? Like a mango for less than a dollar, or a handful of kiwis for less than your bus fare? There’s a reason for that. It is too good to be true.

I’m sure a lot of you already know the food industry is messed up, and for the most part, we only see the benefits. In grocery stores it translates to lower prices, while the story behind the scenes is never as pleasant. Of course, how deep into that tangled mess you choose to go is usually a matter of how much guilt you want to associate with that fresh pineapple, or how easily you can convince yourself that the winter where you live means lots of preserves and root vegetables instead of fresh produce. Sure, you can choose to buy fair trade when possible, and maybe even focus on local products, but as a vegan there are plenty of things you should be eating that probably will not grow in your backyard.

So, that nagging feeling in my stomach is sometimes pushed aside for the sake of the benefits an imported product would provide me. One of the major ones would be bananas. I grew up eating them, and they still make cereal seem a little healthier every morning. Since I’m not a nutritionist, and I arguably don’t know enough for my own diet concerns, let alone someone else’s, I’m not going to say bananas are a necessary part of one’s diet. However, I have been led to believe that they are ridiculously healthy for you, and pack one hell of a nutritional punch in a small package. A lot of times, bananas are one of the only non-local things I buy, and coming from Newfoundland that means a lot of carrots and potatoes with the occasional Canadian apple.

Thus, when I started digging a little deeper into the background of the little yellow wonder, I was not surprised to find out the true reasons why they remain so cheap throughout the year, no matter how far they travel.

Bananasglobalissues.org

The Banana Trade Warglobalissues.org

Banana Link

Sadly, I’m not sure what the solution is. I just felt the information was useful, and it should be something you think of every trip to the produce aisle.



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  1. Mark Gailmor wrote: Jun. 04, 2011

    This is why I always buy fair trade bananas. There a brand called Oke that is fair trade and available in North American. Elsewhere, always verify that you banana’s didn’t fund some 3rd world war or terrorist activity.

    http://okeusa.com/

  2. Ryan wrote: Jun. 04, 2011

    Hmm, I can’t say I’ve heard of those, but I will keep an eye out for them now! I’m pretty sure on the east coast of Canada Dole and Chiquita own the shelves, but perhaps Oke can sneak in at some point.

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