I have a confession to make.
I ate a banana the other day.
Sad Panda’s cousin, Sad Banana
Ever since I started thinking more and more about being green, and especially since I started this blog, I’ve been focusing on local foods as much as possible. There are a few exceptions – I still drink coffee (I’m drinking a decaf latte at a coffee shop as I type this) and tea, eat coconut curries and make macaroons, and I definitely still eat chocolate. But bananas seemed like one thing I could cut out more easily. Yes, I have no bananas. I like them a lot, but I don’t need them like I need chocolate. It’s been hard at times – sometimes I envy all the banana eatin’ going on on other blogs, like Kath’s banana oatmeal and all the breakfast cookies and banana breads. Oh, I used to make the best banana chocolate chip bread and muffins (if I do say so myself – I think my ex-boss and good friend Darren would back me up on this). Last winter, fruitbread season, I faced my biggest BAN-ana (heh) challenge, but made it through the holidays with a pretty awesome chocolate chip pomegranate bread that filled in really nicely.
I’ve actually done a ton of research to see if there’s any way bananas can be grown in CA, but, as you might expect, it’s not likely. There apparently used to be a banana farm in Southern California, until its forced closure. Suspicious! I feel like Dole had something to do with this. 😉 I am determined to someday find someone that grows them here, or find a way to grow them myself! But until then, I basically cut them out completely, except for the occasional “scavenged” ones I get from friends and family members who will otherwise toss them – overripe bananas make the best bread anyway. Until the other night.
I participated in a fun charity run on Thursday, and they gave out 1/2 bananas and bagels at the end. I needed something to tide me over for the bus ride home, but knew I had a fun, local produce-filled dinner ahead of me and didn’t want to spoil it with a bagel. So I somewhat guiltily grabbed a half banana. I actually grabbed a second half, planning on indulging in some banana oatmeal in the AM, but got hungry on the way to the bus and ate that, too.
It was good. And it got me thinking. What if I occasionally cut one of my other non-local exception foods in exchange for bananas? I know that the best thing to do would be to cut as many imported foods as possible, but this blog and my life are not about being perfect, just about making small changes. Chatting with my sister today, I told her I was thinking about cutting coffee and buying bananas from time to time, and asked her if she thought “it was a fair trade.” Ha, we both started cracking up. No pun intended at the time, but I’m totally using that from now on. To be honest, coffee makes me kind of jittery and crazy sometimes and it wouldn’t be the worst thing for me to cut back on it. You should hear how fast I talk normally, and then imagine me on coffee. I have been compared to Six from Blossom at times, and my best friend’s parents used to tell her “Janet called. We have no idea what she said).” Sooo… I might pick one up from time to time, but choose another imported item to cut out that week. I still feel a bit guilty about this, for sure. But for some reason I haven’t felt guilty buying and eating chocolate (lots and lots of chocolate!), so I think I can justify this occasional swap.
So if you start seeing the occasional banana show up here, that’s why. This week, and in the coming months, I think I’ll buy a a few, especially as I start to train for the Nike Women’s Half. The good news is that Whole Foods has a brand called Earth Bananas which come from a farm on the campus of EARTH University, a sustainable agriculture school located in Costa Rica that works “to support education, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development in the tropics.” EARTH University develops “new techniques to increase quality and reduce the environmental and social impact of commercial banana production.” Here’s a little more info about them:
* No use of herbicides. Weed control is manual.
* Use of organic post-harvest fungicide.
* Recycling of organic waste into compost and paper.
* Use of chemicle-free bags to protect fruit in fields.
EARTH pays its full-time farm employees above industry average wages and benefits. Through students, faculty, and staff EARTH is engaged – as an integral part of its mission – in a variety of projects to improve economic, environmental, and social conditions in the towns surrounding the campus.
Pretty cool, right? I’ll feel a little less guilty about lifting the banana BAN with the Earth on my side.