Good Lord. You’d think it was Armageddon the way Dan Koeppel went on about the future of bananas in a New York Times Op-Ed piece. You mean, they could go up to $1 A POUND!?? Shock, horror. Call me jaded, but that’s about as cheap as they get in Australia. And we’re giddy that’s all they cost after seeing banana prices rise to as much as $16 a kilo (about $7.50 a pound for the metrically challenged) two years ago after Cyclone Larry wiped out the better part of Australia’s banana plantations in Queensland.
Back then, I was a newcomer and even before the prices went up I thought two or three bucks a kilo was a bit steep after paying only 25 cents a pound for bananas in the U.S. So, as the prices creeped ever upward, I quit bananas cold turkey and enjoyed shocking friends and family back home with stories of banana prices. Because Australia doesn’t import bananas, the prices kept rising and I would guess most Australians joined me in abstaining from bananas. And you know what? Life went on!
Koeppel questions what else we could slice into a bowl of cereal. Uh… strawberries come immediately to mind as do peaches. And really, in the scheme of things, is $1 a pound really that much for a healthy, easy-to-take-along snack? A pound of Snickers bars costs $4.
He does make a good point about banana diseases and what might happen if something were to wipe out the Cavendish variety which is pretty much the only variety you can buy in U.S. stores at the moment. But rather than being all doomsday about it and saying we might have to live without bananas, why not call on the banana conglomerates, Dole and Chiquita, to invest in growing and marketing other varieties like the dainty and delicious Lady Finger variety? The way I see it, it’s those companies who’ve set us on this potential path to banana blight.
Ultimately, we’ll have to decide if we want to pay a little more to keep eating one of nature’s most perfect foods. I think we will, if only to make sure our grandkids get the joke when someone slips on a banana peel.