If you eat bananas and live in New York, you’re part of a trend. Maybe you didn’t mean to be trendy or whatever by eating a ubiquitously available and yummy fruit, but according to the Wall Street Journal, New York is positively banana-crazed at the moment. We can’t get enough of the yellow, environmentally and politically unfriendly fruit that comes with its own packaging. In fact, “the Big Apple runs on bananas”:
Not only are bananas half the price of rival fruits, and half the mess (assuming you eat the skin), they’re the only reliable characters in the produce section. Buying a peach these days is a game of Russian roulette: You don’t know if you’ll bite into paradise or your worst nightmare. But the banana never lies.
Who eats the skin of a banana? Yuck, ew, how does one digest that, etc. I’ve also never encountered a peach that I could describe as my “worst nightmare,” but then, I’ve also never encountered a lying banana. So.
Impressive facts contained in this article: New Yorkers eat 900 million bananas a year. Some street vendors can sell 400 per diem. Green bananas arriving from South America are kept in chilled “ripening rooms” and sprayed with ethylene gas to “hasten their maturity.” (For you sickos out there eating the banana peel, that means you’re eating this ethylene stuff.)
As for why exactly the banana is cheaper than fruits that can be grown locally, like apples? Even though it has to be transported from thousands of miles away? Because of some shady shit, that’s why. For one thing, the United Fruit Company, now called Chiquita. It’s a long story and involves bad words like “neocolonialism” and “banana republics.” Plus, only one variety of banana is sold internationally, the Cavendish, which allows the industry to create “huge economies of scale.” It’s like Lil’Debbie cakes or what have you. It’s been genetically altered half to death.
Anyway, BREAKING: New Yorkers like bananas a whole lot, and you can get them for cheap, except for at Starbucks where they charge a felonious $1.00/ banana. Fin.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2011