Opinion

Editor's column: American's new national fruit

It’s time to give the banana more respect.

Bananas sell for 89 cents a pound, or as low as 59 cents on a sale day, and that’s on the island. On the mainland they must practically give them away. All other fruit is usually well over $1 a pound. The old fashioned American apple is another category all together. Apples are cheap at $1.33 a pound. Traditional types like Delicious and Granny Smith cost $1.59 or higher, and more exotic types like the unaffordable Honey Crisp are edging near $3 a pound.

The thing about an apple is that you’re never sure you’re getting a good one. You can’t judge an apple by its shiny exterior. The interior may be mushy or tasteless, and you only eat it due to the guilt of having paid so much for it.

In contrast, you can always tell a banana by its looks. If it’s a rotten banana, it’s obvious. If it’s yellow without major blemishes it’s going to taste like a good banana. If it’s green, eventually it will turn yellow and become a good banana. Apples never get better with time, they only get worse.

In fact, the banana has taken over as the No. 1 fruit in America. But it’s never received its due in American folklore. It’s time to move the expensive, often-mushy apple aside and give bananas some respect.

We need to tell our children stories about Johnny Banana Plant, who took a few banana plants and against all odds hiked throughout Central American and parts of Asia, planting bananas as he went along. This bit of manufactured folklore will implant the image of the heroic banana man in our culture. It’ll help build respect for bananas.

It’s important for adults to know that a banana a day keeps the doctor away. Or maybe the coroner. The banana is high in potassium, which helps keep the heart pumping. The advertising slogans are obvious: I heart banana. Apples are nutritionally overblown because bananas were virtually unknown in colonial days. Had Ben Franklin had a banana, he never would have credited apples with such preventative powers.

Romantically, bananas have been left out in the cold. Women should learn to be flattered when told, “Darling, you’re the banana of my eye.” This means that you’re an appealing figure, but try to avoid the reputation of being too easy to peel. You could lose respect in the community.

When war time comes, soldiers should hug the bananas of their eyes and sing, “Don’t sit under the banana tree with anyone else but me.” While dug deep into their foxholes, they can think of their loved ones, sitting alone under that old banana tree, waiting patiently for the war to end.

Bananas also need a gastronomical boost. It’ll take some time to get use to, “It’s as American as baseball and banana pie,” but we can adjust. Start feeding babies bananas from the jars and quickly work your way up to banana cream pie. Bring banana cream pies to baseball games and picnics. Serve cheese on the side and say, “Banana cream pie without some cheese is like a hug without a squeeze.” Pretty soon, the apple will be squeezed out of our folklore.

Because bananas are inexpensive and symbolize good health, they should become the official fruit of America. As for the apples, they make excellent food for monkeys.

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