J500 Media and the Environment

Battle Banana by Janie
February 27, 2009, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Energy + Climate, Food + Health | Tags: , ,

A new war front has been brewing at my house. 

On one side: my environmentally-conscious sister.  On the other: my hungry father.  The battleground: bananas.

The livelihood of these yellow, potassium rich favorites of monkeys and fathers alike is currently under threat in the Chen household.  Could we actually experience a banana prohibition?

My sister argues that bananas, with their international travel from Ecuadorian farms to Kansas tables, is a contributor of greenhouse gases.  She actually wants to stop buying bananas.  My father, on the other hand, fights back by pointing out that bananas are a good source of potassium and vitamins.  He thinks she’s crazy.  This food fight is one that many of us who care about the environment struggle with on a daily basis.  How do we reconcile our dual desires to support sustainable agriculture and enjoy the diverse cornucopia of available foods? While we try to eat more locally, what do we do when something is simply locally unattainable?

It’s enough to drive one bananas.

While eating locally is a wonderful alternative to the food industry we currently have in place, the idea of eating only local is unfortunately only a Utopian dream for many of us.  I admire those who can give up their bananas, and many times, that admiration is coupled with personal guilt.  If I can’t only eat local, does that make me a food fraud?  My answer is no and I find that outlook both defeating and unproductive.

Becoming a locavore just be a dream for now, but that shouldn’t stop you or I from doing what we can to promote sustainable food.  Of the many needs we have as humans, food is one that we not only have to have, but want to have.  It is where necessity and pleasure meet.  We must find encouragement in that passion to adopt better eating habits, become more conscious consumers, and inspire others to do the same.

Janie Chen

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7 Comments so far
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Just to add to the agruement…
My mom used to be a Registered Dietician. Believe it or not, bananas are not the greatest source of potassium. You can get more bang from things like yogurt, which you could make in your own kitchen or spinach and swiss chard, which can easily be grown in a sunny windowbox.

Tell your Dad I’m sorry to make things worse.

There are loads of sites on this. This link is…just okay, but its a start.

Comment by Neighbor Nancy

According to Greenpeace, who I’m sure your sister will have heard of, it’s actually logging/de-forestation that’s the far bigger problem than cars/planes/transport in general – visit:-
I think that the hysteria that world governments have encouraged about fuel consumption is really more to do with the fact that oil reserves are dwindling, and the governments of non-oil producing countries want us to use something for fuel which they don’t have to rely on the current oil producers for. If fuel consumption was really the biggest problem, I’m sure that Greenpeace would say so!

Comment by chebarbz

I struggle with the idea that in order to be a responsible consumer I have to give up so many things that I love. I haven’t given anything up completely, I’ve just tried to transition slowly. For example, I like going to the Merc and just looking around and finding things I didn’t even know were produced locally, unfortunately bananas didn’t make that list.

Comment by christinaw09

I love the happenings of the Chen household…I’m starting to think your family should have its own TV show…

I’m left wondering, though, whether bananas can’t be grown in Kansas. Would a greenhouse be warm enough to support them? Possibly, and you would most likely have to pay a price premium on them, but maybe it isn’t as far fetched as it seems.

Comment by Lauren Keith

I, too, adore bananas and could not imagine giving them up!

I think Christina is right… every little step helps. Maybe you allow yourself bananas, but make sure to buy coffee from a local farm. Of course, I am in favor of this kind of allowance because I want to keep letting myself get bananas!

Comment by brennad87

I also enjoy walking around the Merc and feeling inspired about the food ideals that they support. I think becoming a conscious consumer is definitely the first step to revamping our food habits. Though we may still put that bunch of bananas in our shopping carts, overall, we can make smarter decisions.
It’s important to remember that though we don’t necessarily “see” immediate results, the effect of our actions do make an impact. We need to believe more in the power of our actions to make a difference, both negative and positive.

Comment by janiec52

Your posts are always so well written and entertaining! I’ve thought about things like this myself, and definitely struggle with it. I’ve been cutting out bananas and coffee the last few months (the coffee thing is hard!) because of this very reason. I’m not sure of the effect I’m having, but it makes me feel a tiny bit better.

Comment by amandat09

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