Sunday, July 18, 2010

Unnatural History: The Banana

I've grown a little wary of writers who offer book-length reading about sustainable living. They can come off a bit preachy, hard to relate to (as many lifestyle changes required for true sustainable living can be very, very expensive) and the lessons learned can often be summed up in a sentence or two: "don't buy too much stuff" "avoid read meat at all costs" "shop and eat locally" etc. These things have sort of been driven into my skull over the last few years as the green and sustainable movements have become trends and marketing tools.

But I heard Barbara Kingsolver on the radio this morning and I guess she's written a book about living sustainably. There's a really good chance I won't read it for the reasons cited above but she brought up a really interesting point that relates to things I've thought of before and written a little about here on the Network.

She talked about how one thing she gave up was bananas. Many people, myself included, think about the first big food step to be giving up meat. But, Kingsolver says, bananas require so much refrigeration in big trucks and all that fossil fuel did not seem like it was "cruelty free." It's a really good point and drew me back into the somewhat sordid relationship man has had with the banana over the last few hundred years. Maybe I'll take that story up more specifically some other time but the point that I was reminded of was this: those of us who really care, who have passion and compassion for the planet we live on and its health, we drive ourselves nuts over-thinking things. I think it's totally fair to make a point about refrigerated trucks and maybe I will think more carefully about bananas the next time I'm at my giant, air conditioned supermarket, but I think most fossil fuel burning is completely out of my control and until the whole picture of how we obtain energy changes we're honestly damned if we do and damned if we don't.

Reduction of our consumption still strikes me as the number one most important rule of thumb and it saves us all of the sanity shattering stress of having to figure out if bananas or beets or kale or local turkey or rice or any of the bajillion other foods we use every day is REALLY more sustainable than the next. I'm going to keep eating bananas. They are delicious and a great source of potassium. Hopefully the fact that I don't drive a car will make up for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment