How I Taught My Brother To Cook

Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)

An edifying report !
Information reported below follows upon the diffusion of excellent documentary “Bananas with forced mode ", of Didier Fassion, on the chain France O on January 15, 2009


Fruit more consumed and more exported in the world, the banana is the subject of a terrible commercial war between the United States and Europe. The first control 85% of the market, through powerful multinationals (Chiquita, Dole…) controlling (and how…) the whole of the die, the production in Latin America until the distribution. Europe historically privileges the European and ACP banana (Africa, Caraïbian, Pacific), which finds its origins in the colonial past of several of its countries. Protectionism on a side, complaints with OMC of the other… At all events, the average price of this fruit on the stalls is 1€ 60 (against 2€ 40 for apple of our orchards), and this in spite of the thousands of traversed kilometers, the extremely expensive “treatments ”… Seek the error !


A variety. I had never paid attention to it but, the world market of banana was organized around one only variety, the “Cavendish”. More than a thousands of different varieties exist, but only one is raised because all is grade for it : equipment of conditioning, cuts cardboards boxes, containers of boat… It is explained us learnedly that it would be “very complicated” to open the market with other varieties. Here is for the biodiversity !


For paid bananas 1€ here in our stores, 43cts goes to the distribution, 43cts with the importer, 10cts with the producer and… 2cts with collecting. One begins to dream : and if it were enough to increase 2cts the price of banana to double the wages of these poor people ? Alas, when the price of the banana fluctuates, let us put 10cts, one cans bet that the wages of the poor devil in the plantation, which works 10 hours per day, ruin its health and risks its life if there syndicates will remain hopelessly stuck to the SMIC in Martinique, and to 400$ in Costa-Rica.


Another data : in Martinique, between 5 and 7kg of pesticides, a year per ha, are pours out each week on the plantations ! Apparently, nothing compared with the immense red banana plantations “dollar”, exploited by some American multinationals, of which the hundreds of hectares receive 10 times this amount. One leaves you think the state brooks and river , the impact of this scandal on fauna, the biodiversity (in countries sanctuaries like Costa Rica) and, one imagines it without sorrow, at the end of the chain on human health.


Of course (it is a french documentary don't forget it), one would be in french small good tempted to immediately take the defense of banana of Martinique… But is this so simple ? As elsewhere, this culture pollutes. As elsewhere, one yielded to monoculture. As elsewhere, if the market catches cold (for example, if Europe is finally obliged to lower its tariff barriers) the population will sink in misery…
To consume some any more is not a solution. What would become these countries, whose very whole economy rests on the culture of this fruit ?
All that especially encourages to cultivate its garden, to buy local, to reassure itself on the limitation of the chemical treatments and a distribution righter of the richnesses. And if time with others the desire of a banana takes to you, buy-there (expensive…) in equitable trade. You will not have guarantee on its quality, but you will know at least that for a bought box, 1$ is transferred in the form of development aid with the local populations.

Views: 48

Comment by Patrick on January 17, 2009 at 9:33am
There is a saying: "Ignorance Is Bliss". Regardless of the object of discussion (ie; politics, food, cars, business) there are "behind the scenes" activity that one is better off not knowing. If you expect the worse, then it's probably true and it is as bad as you think. The solution is to control as much as you can in your own little corner of the world (your home) and try not to read about the bad stuff that awaits you in the outside world.

Banana possible solutions:
1- Move to a place where you can grow your own bananas
2- Don't eat bananas any more
3- Pretend you never heard about the banana problems and buy them as you always have.
Comment by John Barrows on January 17, 2009 at 11:02am
I have luckily discovered that I have a moderate digestive allergy to bananas. But I've heard a lot about this banana issue on the radio. It is another case of a big, big monopoly trying to control everything to protect market share and distribution. This whole Cavendish thing is a hoax perpetrated on the public to make them believe it's the only varietal that can be grown and widely distributed.

As long as we're on the topic of mass-produced food, you should try to rent the documentary "King Corn". In a nutshell, corn in this country (not the kind we buy from local farmers to eat, but "feed-stock" corn) is one, and only one variety, that has been developed to attain only one trait - high yield. They have bred all (and I mean ALL) nutritional value out of it. It is the main sweetener (high-fructose corn syrup) in almost all the food and drinks (and I mean almost ALL) we see the markets now. It has ZERO nutritional value. Add some water, some artificial color and flavor and you've got what most kids (and their parents) drink (and the sweetened foods they eat) nowadays. Since it contains no food value, it fools the human body into thinking that it is not full, so we continue to drink (and eat) more trying to fill ourselves up. OK, ready for this. Almost all cattle, pigs and chickens are raised on this stuff, too. Since it is not a natural food of any of these critters (grass, and other forage is) they will eventually get a disease (literally) from eating too much corn. The farm factories have to feed them antibiotics to control the disease. Sixty (60) percent of all the antibiotics consumed in this country are consumed by factory-farm raised animals. Why do we raise so much corn? Because it's cheap, and therefore used as sweetener and feed. Is it profitable to raise corn? No! Raising corn is a money-losing proposition. How do the huge farms businesses stay profitable? They are paid huge subsidies by the government to make up for the losses and to generate a profit. Why? Because each farm state has two senators which is a big enough bloc of votes in the senate to control the formulation of our "farm policy". This is all fact! I hope you don't read this as a rant. I'm just summarizing some undisputed facts. It kinda makes the banana business look miniscule, doesn't it?

One thing we can do (as Pat suggests) is to stop eating anything that contains high-fructose corn syrup. Sure, it limits our food choices, but there are still choices out there if we care to read the labels. And avoid meat (as much as possible) that is raised on the stuff. It is possible! If you literally can't, then you can't. But to be aware and to make wise choices, not only for your own health but for everyone's, is something that each of us can do to fight back. I also agree with Patrick ..... grow more of your own food. And of course, as a last resort, put your head in the sand and pretend that this is not happening. It's working so far for most Americans. Otherwise corn would not be King!
Comment by Patrick on January 17, 2009 at 3:22pm
Not to get off the banana topic, but a diet too rich in corn for humans contracts some sort of ailment like rickets or something of that nature, I doth believe.

I'm still going to eat bananas regardless. I don't eat enough to fizzic a woodpecker anyhow so I am probably safe. Also, it is up to a countries government to support their citizens and protect their interests and not rely on other outside help. Unfortunately, there are severely corrupt countries which don't give a damn about their people only as slave labor.
Comment by John Barrows on January 17, 2009 at 4:22pm
"Hey Mr. tallyman, tally me bananas .... daylight come and me wanna go home"
Comment by Debbie on January 17, 2009 at 5:12pm
LOL! Day oh! I will still eat them there bananas, mon! Cannot believe all we read, if so, we might as well stop breathing the air we breathe, stop drinking the water we drink, etc.. Using common sense and choosing our food wisely will help.
Comment by Laura on January 18, 2009 at 2:12am
Banana possible solutions:
1- Move to a place where you can grow your own bananas
If I do move I'll be obliged to live some very polluted place by pesticides ... I'm not ready.
2- Don't eat bananas any more
I can't ! I like bananas (and still don't have any allergy ...) and anyway if we stop eating bananas, what would become the poor people than work in plantations 10 hours a day to survive ?
3- Pretend you never heard about the banana problems and buy them as you always have.
No, No, NO !!! What about conscience, mine at least ? I do think everybody has to aware of what one eats.

I agree with Debbie we have to use common sense and watch what we buy to eat !

By the other way, everyone heard about Mosanto Compagny, THE American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, by John Francis Queeny.
Monsanto's development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its aggressive litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of the anti-globalization movement and environmental activists.
It has over 18,800 employees worldwide, and an annual revenue of USD$8.563 billion reported for 2007. CONFORTABLE !
Do Monsanto cares about people or animals health ? No, its interest is to sell as much as it can.
Do you believe that bees make a selection before gather nectar ? Unfortunately, bees carry genetically engineered seed to other places and one day, one won't be abble to find any basic plant ... on Earth.

Makes me scared.
Comment by Patrick on January 18, 2009 at 5:28am
Welcome to planet earth in the 21st century. I am very cynical on the world today and how power and greed are raping the planet and the common folks.
Comment by John Barrows on January 18, 2009 at 7:52am
It's time to storm the Bastille - so to speak! I think a new revolution is due. It's always up to the common people to foment change. Eat the rich!
Comment by Debbie on January 18, 2009 at 9:00am
The more the population grows the more problems we will have. This is just the beginning. As far as the bees go, they do not carry seed anywhere. Bees do select most flowers to gather nectar and pollen from, however, there are few plants that they do not forage on, for example mountain laurel and some Rhododendron as they are toxic to the bees. While commercial farming may start using genetically engineered seed, its up to people like us not to buy the produce grown from genetically engineered seed. There are still enough people who do not believe in it and natural and vintage seed will always be available for the common folk to use in their own local farms and individual gardens.
Comment by John Barrows on January 18, 2009 at 11:58am
I still say, "Eat the rich!"


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