No rotten bananas – the price of being so picky


I stared at the badly browned and limp banana on my bench the other day, so tender to the touch that I could barely lift it, and knew what had to be done.

banana ripening chart
Banana ripening chart

The poor thing wouldn’t even be able to walk itself to the compost bin without exploding it’s mushy insides, the skin as fragile as wet tissue paper. If this banana were on the above banana ripening chart, it would probably be a 9 (at least).¬†Looks like I will be rustling up another banana loaf…yummy!

Makes me think about a conversation I have had recently with a new aquaintance, Sam. She told me that the major supermarkets (in my locality these are Coles and Woolworths), waste so much food every day in huge skip bins, because it is deemed ‘not the quality our buyers associate us with’.

Think of it this way, you are paying for this food to be thrown away – it will contribute to the prices you already pay for your food – but you don’t get to eat it. This happens right across the road from me (I live across the road from Woolworths). Perfectly good and edible food gets thrown away because we have such high standards for food ‘perfection’. I am not just talking about quality, but perfection.

Every time we pick up a piece of perfect fruit, and leave the less than perfect, we are voting with our hands. And I am not getting on my high horse here, I do exactly the same. It’s natural. Oh…look, that one looks yummy. Nope, bit weird shaped that one….oh, a tiny dot on that one, bye, bye….and so on. I mean, if I am going to pay so much for it, I want the good stuff naturally.

I never thought of it in this way, but in choosing the perfect food only, I am pressuring the suppliers to continue to produce more and more perfect food. And of course, they will pressure the growers, who probably don’t make much money anyway, and then they will try to apply more pesticides or by new and improved varieties to grow, and oh…look, a scientist has a great solution to combat the problem, genetic modification, and the list goes on.

So, this morning, in the Age, the following article really struck a chord with me: What’s yellow, small and costing growers a packet? It looks like our obsession with perfection extends not just to ripeness with bananas now, but to shape too. I mean, those bendy ones taste yuck, don’t they! Or do they?

In nature, food is rarely dished up like this. Ever seen a ripe fruit tree? Some pieces of fruit have been attacked by bugs, some have been picked at by the birds. Some are weird shaped, quite often a piece looks picture perfect. And naturally growing food is diverse, in shape and taste. But we want them to be all the same, and this desire (perhaps subconscious) places pressure on only certain types of food being grown in unnatural ways and mammoth proportions (monocultures), which can only ultimately spell trouble. It is the same as business that has a monopoly on something, it isn’t healthy.

Instead of trying to combat the issue of bendy bananas not being our first choice, they look to science and alternatives. Try to grow the bend out, try to find an alternative. Why can’t we make the bendy bananas cool? Oh…yours is soooo – like – straight! Mine is totally sick because it – like – bends! Way cool! (I just channelled a 14 year old in order to write that).

I am sad that we can’t buy over ripe bananas. If I want to make banana loaf, I have to wait for at least a week or two before I can get the bananas ripe enough.

Maybe I could become a trendsetter. Demand overripe fruit, only pick the pieces of fruit that are less than perfect, write recipes for less than perfect food? We all love the teddy-bear or cute little puppy that isn’t quite right, so why can’t we do it with our food too?

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Vincent says:

    Hey Geri, very interesting opinion and got me thinking!

    The problem is there is only one price for bananas. You are right that people are only going to pick the best ones that are there on the day.

    The solution to getting people to pick the (only slightly) overripe fruit is for the supermarket to put it in a discount bin, they shouldn’t immediately trash it.


    1. Geri says:

      You are right Vincent….but the supermarkets only want to be associated with quality, so the rest goes in the skip bin. They don’t want to have the cheaper section, plus, I suspect is adds another level of complexity for their staff at the checkout. Pity really!


  2. Hazel says:

    Looks like we will all have to start “dumpster diving”! I agree though, I do it all the time, I will look out for the not quite right fruit next time. Thanks for sharing your ideas.


    1. Geri says:

      Kerin, I didn’t see this article in the Age…so thanks for sharing it! It is spot on. Why make efforts for climate change in some areas and blatantly ignore them in others! I would happily take less them perfect fruit – at the right price. I think that is the issue for lots of people. The blatant waste I hear about makes me feel ill.


  3. fatmama says:

    I will no longer be picking the most beautiful fruits and veggies. My husband is the main chef here, and I will tell him all about it as soon as he gets home.

    WOW, what an inspiring message.


  4. foody says:

    Most people don’t even know that it’s at point 7 that the banana is matured.. as in ripe enough to eat.
    You can distinguish that when the skin starts getting black spots! Easy to peel, actually says “eat me”..


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