So, what's a banana loving gal or guy to do? Well, the next best thing if you must have bananas is to buy organically grown ones. Even some of the major suppliers (Del Monte, Dole and Chiquita) now provide organic bananas. But, how sustainable are they? We know for a fact that they are shipped in from afar, raising the carbon footprint considerably, but what else is there to consider?
Is there really a difference in taste? I totally think so. The difference in flavors from conventional bananas and organic ones is huge. At least for me. However, there are plenty of issues with non-fair trade bananas, mostly revolving around workers' rights, dealing with terrorists and the like. In other words, fairly nasty business (check out link at the end for more information). The organic major brands are better than conventionally grown, but are by no means an option that will let you sleep soundly at night.
If you are lucky enough to have access to Grow brand organic bananas, you can purchase these bananas that don't cost much more per pound (at least in my area) than the conventionally grown, pesticide, non-crop rotated bananas. What's the difference? Well, let me tell you... they actually give a crap about the farmers who grow the bananas. From their website:
The GROW Fund supports numerous efforts that improve the lives of workers, their families and their surrounding communities. It also requires farmers to use Organic Unlimited's ecologically friendly farming techniques that protect the earth and allow for sustainable agriculture. The GROW Fund ethos forms Organics Unlimited's corporate culture. The company pledges to treat its employees with respect and dignity, provide a pleasant work environment, and be a socially responsible company.
There are other companies that provide fair trade certified bananas that may be available in your area. These bananas are much more available in the UK and Europe so if you live overseas, you'll have better luck buying them. In the meantime, keep your eyes (and your bananas) peeled for sustainably, humanely farmed bananas.
To really read into why Dole and Chiquita are problematic companies (think of the meaning behind "Banana Republic"), you can find out more about the belly of the beast in this article here.
Do you eat bananas or have you given them up for environmental reasons? If you still buy bananas, do you get conventional, organic and/or fair trade?