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cavendish bananas against consumer choice

with 6 comments

NYTimes, interesting on bananas:

The final piece of the banana pricing equation is genetics. Unlike apple and orange growers, banana importers sell only a single variety of their fruit, the Cavendish. There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas — most of them in Africa and Asia — but except for an occasional exotic, the Cavendish is the only banana we see in our markets. It is the only kind that is shipped and eaten everywhere from Beijing to Berlin, Moscow to Minneapolis.

By sticking to this single variety, the banana industry ensures that all the bananas in a shipment ripen at the same rate, creating huge economies of scale. The Cavendish is the fruit equivalent of a fast-food hamburger: efficient to produce, uniform in quality and universally affordable.

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 20, 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. Sigh, it’s very depressing. Ok, I haven’t clicked over to the article yet, but some of my scientist friends point out how the genetic monoculture of bananas is making it harder to grow them and that they will probably be wiped out in our lifetimes. I understand we’re having mass extinctions all around us right now, but something as ubiquitous and tasty and everyday as the banana?

    The thought that I’ll have to explain to my (as yet imaginary) kids what a banana is just boggles the mind. On the other hand, I’ll probably have to explain about commercial airplanes and cheap oil and health care too — sigh.

    Oh, by the way, I’ve got a thing at the thing, but not a 3-fer in a day like you had. You’ll have to email me some tips about how to come off like a responsible adult.

    Sisyphus

    June 20, 2008 at 11:23 pm

  2. Ok never mind, that’s exactly what the article says (tho my friends peg it at within 30 years).

    Also, it is so weird that “banana republic” now signifies an upscale clothing chain that doesn’t even have the safari-style clothes that distinguished it when it first got popular.

    Sisyphus

    June 20, 2008 at 11:27 pm

  3. The thought that I’ll have to explain to my (as yet imaginary) kids what a banana is just boggles the mind. On the other hand, I’ll probably have to explain about commercial airplanes and cheap oil and health care too — sigh.

    sort of a zeitgeist dominating line of thought, isn’t it. Explaining to them what X was, now that it’s gone. It’s actually become a tic for me, especially because I have a 3 year old who is constantly asking about things, why why why, now. I feel this little pang of pathos when she (as she constantly does) points out airplanes in the sky, as I did when I was little. Checking the fares for our next trip to the US, later this summer, it seems clear to me that this whole air-travel thing isn’t going to go on much longer.

    I want to write so much more about this, though. “Our last driving vacation,” “our last car,” “last visit to the airport.” It’s an amazing perversion of the insistent logic of modernity, the old “last time we fire up the coal oven” or “last time a child dies of whooping cough” – but this time with no nice new replacement in line.

    Anyway, more more more soon. And thanks, Sisyphus. And by the way, I’ll be where you’ll be too, this time only doing 1 thing (plus attending a seminar I assume – did you see the commie one? I’ll probably do that one…) so it’ll be good, we’ll drink etc…

    adswithoutproducts

    June 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

  4. i don’t know how that winky got in there – maybe wordpress felt i needed one.

    adswithoutproducts

    June 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

  5. Drinking and visiting is all well and good but I need some help pretending to know what I’m doing leading this thing …. esp when there are bona fide experts doing the same thing, if you noticed.

    You _would_ do the commie thing! I expect a full report.

    Sisyphus

    June 25, 2008 at 5:51 am

  6. Oh… you’re running one of those. Now I see. I thought you meant something else. (It probably sounded like I was being rude above, I just misunderstood.)

    There’s nothing to it, really. Just follow the directions, have them submit their papers by the deadline established etc, recirculate. Probably fair to send your own around first, but not manditory. And then, all that’s left is to come up with a little intro for the session itself.

    The tricky part for me was just patiently waiting for the guidelines to arrive. I’ll send you a copy of what I got last year so that you know what’s coming… OK… sending now…

    adswithoutproducts

    June 25, 2008 at 1:04 pm


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