Tag Archives: fruit

Banana Split

First, she came for our bees. Now she’s back for our bananas. But what we repeatedly fail to see is we’re the ones she’s really after. Mother Nature’s making it personal, by killing off our most precious resources first, so she can watch us writhe and suffer and eventually die in a world devoid of flavor, nourishment and everything we ever loved. Not unlike God, after creating humans, the cherry on top of the beautiful garden he cultivated. Before he realized how badly he’d fucked up and decided to start over by mopping up the mess he’d made, AKA the holy flood.

Except unlike God and the flood, what we perceive as attacks by Mother Nature are indirectly our own doing. Just like when Mama used to take your toys away. You had to give her a reason to. You were probably misusing them. Maybe you were being too possessive of them. Perhaps you weren’t taking proper care of them. In any case, you were being naughty, and Mama had to teach you a lesson. Maybe we can have our bananas back if we learn our’s.

So what might that lesson be? I’m glad you asked.

The banana you know and love today is inferior in every way to the ones our parents and / or grandparents knew and loved a half a century ago. The Gros Michel, or Big Mike, as it was called—better-tasting and longer-lasting than today’s banana—was the world’s banana of choice until the mid-1900s. It was the standing champion of all bananas for decades of export and distribution, until it was struck by Mother Nature’s first blow to the groin of the industry. The Panama Disease.

The deadly fungus wiped out our beloved better-banana and left us only with a shittier runner-up. The Cavendish, another cultivar of the same fruit, which is inadequate in every way except for its immunity to Panama disease. Granted, it’s still delicious and one of the most-consumed crops across the globe. So we proceeded to breed a global monoculture of Cavendish bananas, when we should have been breeding  more genetic variation, on the off chance that the Panama Disease adapts a new, more deadly strain that threatens the one and only banana we grow.

Which is exactly what predictably has happened. The “second coming” of the fungus, known today as TP4, has already swept across South-east Asia and is spreading fast. Containing the fungus is unrealistic, considering it spreads naturally in storms. Facing the imminent death of the Cavendish banana, we must determine an alternative.

Knowing, as I do, nothing about the breeding of bananas or parthenocarpy or any of that genetic crap, I’m in no place to determine or even speculate such an alternative. But someone better. And surely, someone will, but depending on who, and how, I have my doubts about the soundness of whatever solution might eventually be proposed. Nature already gave us a second chance with the Cavendish after we fucked up the Gros Michel, by relying globally on a single genetic variation of our favorite fruit. And what did we do? The same exact thing. Round two. And what happened to our second-chance banana? The same exact thing.

So surely the answer is to breed more variations of bananas, so if one strain falls victim to the plague, we will have others to replace it. Easier said than done, I’m sure. I always sucked at biology, but the psychic in me foresees a looming opportunity for Monsanto. Genetic modification of food is another dangerous game we like to play, that’s already costing us some of our favorite toys. Take corn, for instance. Go try to buy some genetically unaltered corn. Good luck. Genetically modified corn threatens to dominate and wipe out natural varieties, because it’s bred to be superior. Survival of the fittest. (Or at least that’s as far as my limited and somewhat abstract understanding of GMOs can conceive.) How long before No-GMO is no no longer an option? How long before Mother Nature takes all our original toys away? How many times does the banana have to split before it’s gone forever?

Imagine it. A life with no bananas. No more banana bread. No more banana splits. No more banana milkshakes. No more banana pancakes. Jack Johnson’s famous hit. Every cartoon character that’s ever slipped on a banana peel. Every dick joke that’s been born from this gorgeous, phallic fruit. All meaning will be lost on future generations, born into a sad, cold, potassium-deficient world.

Now imagine the opposite. Imagine a world full of bananas as diverse as man and their dicks. Bananas of all varieties of size and shape and color. Subtle differences of texture and taste. Where before there was only one, there would be a menu of options. A breeding ground of creativity for culinary geniuses. And me, devouring their new creations.

As I said before, I’m no expert on genetic bio- banana stuff. And I’m no psychic either, as much as I may delude myself to be. Ultimately, I’m just a blogger, and a lover of bananas, and I just want you to know that they’re in trouble. And just to drill my message in a little deeper, here’s some internet-wisdom to remind you just how much you love bananas, and how sad you’d be to see them go.

When men are staring at you while you’re eating a banana..

Posted by WTF did i just watch?

Wes Side Story

Living in suburban Redwood City, as I do, I’m under constant fire from my neighbors for parking in front of their houses, or picking their oranges, unforgivable offenses my neighbors refuse to tolerate. They typically attack with angry notes left on my windshield or gate, and the occasional nail gun to my tires, anything to avoid a direct confrontation. All but one of my neighbors have proven to be total dicks. All but Camel-puffing, hoodie-wearing Wes, the one and only neighborly neighbor I’ve yet to encounter on my block.

The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I've already eaten
The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I’ve already eaten

One of the most frustrating conundrums of my neighborhood has always been the oranges. I don’t even like oranges. I’ve always disliked them, since my childhood when I once unknowingly swallowed and choked on a couple seeds. I’ve avoided oranges ever since. Plus, I just don’t like oranges. But my neighborhood is full of orange trees. And one summer day, I was getting dehydrated on the long trek home from downtown and resorted to an orange out of sheer desperation. It was delicious, and more importantly, it was seedless.

I stalked my neighborhood, in hot pursuit of oranges, scoping out which trees were within reach of the sidewalk and taste-testing samples from each one for quality. Some were a bust, but other were just as yummy and seedless as the first, and none more so than the ones at Wes’s house, two doors down from mine. The conundrum of the oranges is that all of them reside, uneaten and untouched, teasing me from the private property of the neighbors who protect those wasted oranges with their lives.

Except for Wes. Among the many oranges I’ve stolen, I’ve also come up on a shopping basket from my local Safeway, which has come in very handy hauling other stolen goods. One morning, just over a year ago, I knocked on the neighbor’s door, basket in hand, oranges on branch, and Wes answered. I asked if I could pick some oranges. He said, “Sure, help yourself.”

This was probably the first time these three words were uttered on my street. And help myself, I did. I filled that basket.

Anyway, the other day, I received an anonymous bag of the best oranges on the Wes Coast, and I know who they’re from, and this is just to espress my thanks to Wes for being a good person in a sea of fucking assholes. He even apologized that one time his step-dad left a mean note on my car.

It’s that easy. If you’re a fucking asshole with an orange tree, ask yourself, would you really rather see that good fruit fall and rot on your front lawn than see the smile you could put on someone’s face if you would share? Wes may not be rich or famous, but he’s a good neighbor, and that’s more than a lot of Americans can say for themselves. Thank you, Wes. Hope you don’t mind I shared your story.