The News -
as recorded by someone who has little or no interest in what is going on in the outside world....
Monday, 6 October 2008
Did you know that if you are my age or older the bananas you had as a child tasted different to today’s bananas? Indeed, interestingly I recall very few bananas when I was young – they were certainly not a common fruit in our house though bananas and custard was an occasional dessert. The reason is explained in a widely read and frantically e-mailed New York Times story that has opened many new eyes to a horticultural disaster anticipated for many years: the commercial extinction of the Cavendish banana. Dan Koeppel's warning is right on target:
“By sticking to [a] single variety, the banana industry ensures that all the bananas in a shipment ripen at the same rate, creating huge economies of scale. The Cavendish is the fruit equivalent of a fast-food hamburger: efficient to produce, uniform in quality and universally affordable.
But there’s a difference between a banana and a Big Mac: The banana is a living organism. It can get sick [mind you, I’ve seen some pretty sick Big Macs], and since bananas all come from the same gene pool, a virulent enough malady could wipe out the world’s commercial banana crop in a matter of years.
This has happened before. Our great-grandparents grew up eating not the Cavendish but the Gros Michel banana, a variety that everyone agreed was tastier and easier to peel. But starting in the early 1900s, banana plantations were invaded by a fungus called Panama disease and vanished one by one. Forest would be cleared for new banana fields, and healthy fruit would grow there for a while, but eventually succumb.
By 1960, the Gros Michel was essentially extinct and the banana industry nearly bankrupt. It was saved at the last minute by the Cavendish, a Chinese variety that had been considered something close to junk: inferior in taste, easy to bruise (and therefore hard to ship) and too small to appeal to consumers. But it did resist the blight.
Over the past decade, however, a new, more virulent strain of Panama disease has begun to spread across the world, and this time the Cavendish is not immune. The fungus is expected to reach Latin America in 5 to 10 years, maybe 20. The big banana companies have been slow to finance efforts to find either a cure for the fungus or a banana that resists it. Nor has enough been done to aid efforts to diversify the world’s banana crop by preserving little-known varieties of the fruit that grow in Africa and Asia.”
There are other bananas in the world but no one has put enough effort into ensuring they are preserved and finding if any are resistant to the disease. And none of them is widely cultivated so, even if a disease-resistant one were found, if the Cavendish goes offline, it'll be a long, banana-less age in which scarcity ensures that two of my favourite deserts – bananas in custard and the banana split – are forgotten entirely.
This is a cheat's blog; a coward's blog. I have taken the conscious decision that it will not be about a world in chaos. The real news which has an impact on the lives of millions is that in which the Four Horsemen appear - war, famine, conquest and death - or in which the Gods have taken it upon themselves to punish folk through natural disasters and disease.... I shall leave such headlines to the BBC and Sky News. Not all my posts will be positive by any means but I readily acknowledge that I have made no attempt to give a balanced view of the news that is genuinely important in this world.
Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)