Friday, January 09, 2009
John Hari - The Huffington Post - Why Bananas are a Parable for Our Times - Below the headlines about rocketing food prices and rocking governments, there lays a largely unnoticed fact: bananas are dying. The foodstuff, more heavily consumed even than rice or potatoes, has its own form of cancer. It is a fungus called Panama Disease, and it turns bananas brick-red and inedible. There is no cure. They all die as it spreads, and it spreads quickly. Soon - in five, 10 or 30 years - the yellow creamy fruit as we know it will not exist. The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world - and where they are leading us.
Is there a parable for our times in this odd milkshake of banana, blood and fungus? For a hundred years, a handful of corporations were given a gorgeous fruit, set free from regulation, and allowed to do what they wanted with it. What happened? They had one good entrepreneurial idea - and to squeeze every tiny drop of profit from it, they destroyed democracies, burned down rainforests, and ended up killing the fruit itself. But have we learned? Across the world, politicians like George Bush and David Cameron are telling us the regulation of corporations is "a menace" to be "rolled back"; they even say we should leave the planet's climate in their hands. Now that's bananas.