These days, each of us tries to do our part in the greening of the planet, mainly by thinking globally and acting locally. There are small things all of us can do, from sorting the recycling properly to reducing our pets’ ecological paw print. Sometimes these small measures hint at a big, unrealized impact; and that’s what I’d like to talk about.
Most of us are aware of the problem of wasted food. Parental admonishment to “clean our plates” and descriptions of the starving children overseas are familiar childhood memories. Some young zealots, like the Freegans
, have literally taken the matter into their own hands by getting most of their food from dumpsters. My plan is not nearly as ambitious, but every little bit helps doesn’t it?
The problem is bananas. To many people – well, me anyway – bananas are optimally ripe for a period of about six hours. Prior to the optimal window they are green and bitter, the peel brittle and difficult to remove. After, they’re spotted, brown and slimy; not fit for swine. The transition from green to slime happens so quickly that one is inevitably left with sticky brown piles of former fruit that, just too often, find their way into landfills.
There are common ways of dealing with this. Don’t kid yourself. Bakers and beverage manufacturers don’t use optimally ripe bananas in their products. Think about it, haven’t most of them really been invented to recycle over-ripe bananas? Rhyme them off – banana bread, banana loaf, banana walnut muffins. Why does every blended fruit drink seem to contain innards of the curved sludge sack? Why does the worst institutional hand soap contain banana oil? You guessed it.
But all these measures are clearly haphazard, stop-gap measures, conceived in moments of desperation, when the odor of the “spotted dick
”* was hanging in the air. What we need is a comprehensive plan to deal with a problem of global dimensions.
It’s logical to involve all levels of government in this. Public education would be a good first step, with a global mail-out, or internet posting of banana bread/loaf recipes. There could be a tax rebate program for juicers or blenders.
Ultimately, a banana credit trading market could be developed domestically, or better, internationally, with the UN taking a leading role. That way, countries effectively sequestering bananas in other products, or elsewhere, will be rewarded. Progressive jurisdictions will be able to proudly boast “yes, we have no bananas.”
These initiatives would establish a great precedent for recycling other similarly problematic foods. Zucchini is an obvious one. Ministries of Environment could sponsor real groundbreaking R&D on that front.
On the other end of the spectrum we have clearly regressive companies, like Tim Horton’s, who in a recent story
, claimed that the Timbits they fed to pets of customers was a manner of “recycling”. Yeah, I think some of us know all about that. How many of us can look back in shame at trying to “recycle” chicken bones through our dog? I remember a particularly onerous attempt at having our Dachshund “recycle” a litre of leftover goose fat (a.k.a. schmaltz
). The resulting eruption made Krakatoa look like a picnic.
Thanks to reader Jeem M. for suggesting that Timbits might better be woven into durable clothing, thereby adding a true Canadian product to our export roster. It’s far-sighted, clear thinking like that and – to stretch modesty for a moment, my own banana plan – that will move us forward to a greener tomorrow.
* This is of course a reference to the well-known English steamed pudding.