Kitchen Playlist #1
Something to listen to while you are picking flower petals, proofing bread or chopping onions.
I’m in Costa Rica on assignment right now, so there’s no podcast interview this week. I promised when I announced this newsletter that I would occasionally be sharing playlists. While they might not suit everyone’s needs, I have been known to have a…let’s call it varied interest in music and this playlist is no exception. It includes everything from classic reggae to Peruvian punk to Brazilian David Bowie covers. It’s what I have been listening to while driving around Guanacaste. If you like it, please share it.
Why are there bags around bananas growing on plantations?
Driving around Costa Rica, particularly on the Caribbean side, it’s difficult to avoid large tracts of the landscape covered with banana trees. These are the very same bananas sold in many US supermarkets (Ecuador and Colombia are also major suppliers). One thing that immediately stands out are the blue and sometimes white bags that cover the fruits. So, what are these?
The bags on bananas not only help speed up the ripening process, but they are also filled with pesticides. At every point in the growing process, these commercial bananas are sprayed with countless other chemicals, such as nematicide injections in soil to kill roundworms and aerial spraying or fungicide. The companies that sell the fruits (Dole, Chiquita, Del Monte, etc) claim the risk of exposure for consumers is quite low, however, what about the communities that live near these plantations? Countless studies have shown that these chemicals infiltrate their air and waterways, leading to numerous diseases and negative neurobehavioral affects.
Why do bananas need all of these chemicals, you might be wondering? Well, bananas are not native to the Americas. They originated in Asia. While they do grow widely throughout the tropics and have been adopted into traditional cuisine throughout the Americas, this still is not their native environment and regardless, growing the quantity needed to fulfill this demand requires industrial solutions. Additionally, the Cavendish, the banana found in most grocers because of its large size, is especially susceptible to diseases and parasites so it requires a lot chemicals.
So what can you do to not support this system and still eat bananas? In the US, look for Rainforest Alliance-certified bananas, which are sold at grocery stores like Whole Foods and use natural pest control methods, like a spray made of hot pepper and garlic. Also, look for other varieties of bananas, especially the smaller ones, which can be grown in more diverse environments (meaning not on plantations) and have natural protection from pests from bats and shade from other trees to see protect them from certain funguses from developing.
Sorry if I just ruined cheap bananas for you, but you’re a better person for knowing.
In the coming weeks I’ll be talking about some of the good things going on in Costa Rica.
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