Impotent Bananas

by Michael W. Stowell

August 4, 2003


Curious apes, aren't we? Interminably manipulating and tool making, ever fiddling with things that don't concern us...happy we are, probing and prodding, searching for another frontier.

We like civilizing each other and our surroundings. We busy ourselves in a virtual world while "improving" the natural realm. We fashion concepts of externality, and governments, and wildlife reserves; ever so clever and always in trouble, that's us!

Consider our favorite fruit, the banana.

From jungle green to creamy yellow, and then freckled, then sweet, bananas are such beautiful fruit. The birds and bugs love them, too.

Our banana began, a long time ago, as an inedible, seed-filled pod; we have mutated the lowly banana, through selective breeding and cloning, and now, so refined, it is the king of all fruit. After 10,000 years of careful propagation, it is a staple for many and a treat for the rest, the inspiration of fast-food vendors. It grows its own wrapper, which is biodegradable, so it's frugal and politically correct.

May I ask what exemplifies the ingenuity of our species more than does our beloved banana? Military parades are impressive, especially the rockets and missiles. Skyscrapers and shuttle launches, jet fighters and fireworks are all awesome, too. However, they are not living things and we cannot eat them.

Here in the land of prosperous plenty we eat sweet bananas, while in other places people eat starch bananas, and lots of them. Five hundred million people in Africa and Asia depend on the plantain banana for nourishment. It provides up to half their daily calories; is easily digestible; and is a good source of potassium, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, B6 and C.

We harvest about 100 million tons of bananas each year, for banana bread, banana pudding, fried bananas, frozen bananas, banana splits and shakes, banana daiquiris, you name it. Bananas have become a people-friendly part of the culture in which we all swing.

Sing the praises of our esteemed banana, eat as many as you possibly can, while you can, it faces extinction and may not be with us much longer. Not only is it seedless and therefore infertile, its immune system is weak and deficient, defenseless against soil-borne disease.

Curious naked apes with impotent bananas, in constant struggle with Nature's realm; never really possessing it, always second-guessing it, forever anticipating its corrective measures, yet never quite ready to learn all its lessons. Teetering atop this hierarchal order, above all in the "animal kingdom," we grasp for more, something larger, something newer, more convenient, everlasting.

Impetuous naked apes with impotent bananas, scrambling over each other in our quest to possess everything, everywhere, every way we can. Grabbing our inheritance, our heritage, our dominion, confiscating anything of any value to us; we'll take it if it looks good, it was ours to begin with!

On and on, we repeat this old story, based on an idea as impotent as our bananas. We own the story of ownership, at the expense of all life. So predictable and tragic is our concept of reality, so sterile and null: We rest upon the pinnacle of evolution, we are the caretakers of all creation.

Scared naked apes with impotent bananas, unwilling to face our own demise, our own inevitable extinction, we sacrifice others on our altars of righteousness, to prolong our existence and avoid our mortality, to suit our fantasy, virtual world.

Odd naked apes with impotent bananas, mutants like the bananas we love.

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Resources and Related Internal Links

International Plant Genetic Resources Institute

Banana facts

Actions & Ideas to NOT play the Game, on Swans


Michael W. Stowell is a local activist in Northern California.

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Published August 4, 2003
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