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Banana farmer

I was chatting to a banana grower friend the other day. He was very concerned, because the banana growers of the Canary Islands have recently threatened industrial action.

They feel undervalued and underpaid, and they are concerned that with cheaper imports entering the European Union from other countries, their livelihoods are being threatened. Despite the islands’ tourism industry, the growing of fruit and vegetables, and particularly the banana, remain an essential part of the Canary Islands’ economy, which should not be underestimated.

Many visitors comment about the fields of polythene sheeting that adorn the sides of many roads in the Canary Islands. As well as protecting soft fruit and vegetables, many such structures shelter bananas from the ravages of the strong Atlantic winds. Our garden is surrounded by several very large and impressive banana plants that brush noisily against the wall in strong winds, which reminds me of the importance of the banana to these islands.

I am a great fan of the humble banana, particularly if it is the traditional Canarian variety, as opposed to those huge, tasteless, perfectly shaped objects usually found in most UK supermarkets. The Canarian banana is well worth searching out, and some of the better UK supermarkets now stock them. Although smaller in size, they are full of flavour and are much sweeter and creamier than the imported bananas from the Caribbean, which are often picked too early, artificially ripened and sprayed with gas to control the ripening process.

I am always surprised that bananas are not more popular; after all, they are nature’s energy bar, which is far better for you than one of those expensive sports drinks. Although maybe not as ‘cool’ as a heavily advertised ‘sports drink’, one medium sized banana contains around ten per cent of the daily potassium intake that most adults need.

These fresh, creamy fruits from the Canary Islands are cheap and readily available throughout the year. They are rich in calories, with 100 grams of fruit containing around 90 calories, as well as being rich in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. Its flesh is made up of simple sugars, such as sucrose and fructose that instantly replenish the body, and is why they are so popular with athletes. The amount of soluble dietary fibre also means that it is good for the bowels, which means that you can avoid constipation by eating regular supplies of bananas. Now that really must be good news.

This humble fruit also contains a generous helping of Vitamin B6, which helps to treat inflammation of the nerves and anaemia, as well as helping to prevent coronary artery disease and stroke. A portion of fruit also contains a dose of Vitamin C, which helps to ward off some of those nasty diseases, magnesium for strengthening bones, and copper for helping in the production of red blood cells. What’s not to like?

In short, this wonderful fruit helps to combat depression, cures hangovers, helps to protect against kidney cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and blindness. Bananas are the only raw fruit that can be eaten to relieve stomach ulcers, because they coat the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids. By the way, you can also rub a banana over a mosquito bite to sooth the pain and disinfect the wound and, if you really must, you can use one to clean your shoes. I wish the plants growing over my garden wall would hurry up and give me some fruit.

If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his book, ‘Expat Voice’ (ISBN: 9780992767174). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle.
iPhone/iPad and Android Apps: ExpatInfo, CanaryIsle and CanaryGay now available.

© Barrie Mahoney

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