Saturday, September 02, 2023

Tales From Produce (A)Isle: Yes, We Have No Bananas (Actually, We Do)

 The two products we put out more than any others on Produce (A)Isle are roma tomatoes and bananas.

The banana that is the mainstay of the Western World is the Cavendish banana.  The history (here) of the Cavendish is interesting:  originally sent to William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire in the 1830's, they were raised in his Greenhouse.  Originally the Cavendish was not the banana of choice:  this was the Gros Michel ("Big Mike"), which was the commercial mainstay of banana-dom until the 1950's, when it succumbed to a fungal disease called Panama Disease.  At the time it was believed that the Cavendish was resistant to Panama disease and thus entered production; as it turns out this may not be the case and the Cavendish Banana remains at risk.

As longer readers might recall, we saw bananas being grown in Costa Rica in 2021,  The blue bags are to help ripen them.

Bananas come in 40 lbs. boxes.  There are only two suppliers, at least to us: Del Monte and Dole.  There are two types, Organic and Regular Bananas.  Generally, organic bananas are about $0.14 more expensive a pound:



The 40 lbs. box contains four rows of banana bunches, an inner row on each side and an outer row fitting around it.  The rows are separated by plastic.  On the whole, a case of bananas will have been 16 and 20 bunches.

You would be shocked at the amount of bananas we sell.

I can easily refill the banana racks at least twice and possibly three times during a 5 hour shift:  one major loading which may consist of 10 to 12 cases and a second and third loading to fill in the gaps, each easily 4 to 6 cases - thus making the total number handled 18 to 24 cases of bananas at 40 lbs each.  

Let us just say my change in gyms has been adequately compensated for.  By a job.

Additionally, the bananas come in various stages of ripeness.  Some of the are a brilliant ripe yellow, some of them are a faded green to yellow, and some of them are almost pure green. There is no rhyme or reason to what comes: sometimes it seems like 100% yellow, sometimes almost all green.  

Balancing the various ripeness is a trick. The ripe ones obviously get over ripe much more quickly and so keeping them out and up front matters.  The green ones are often less attractive for eating, so too many means slower sales.

An ideal distribution on the rack is that the upper two rows (10' each, two sides) is all more ripe bananas and the bottom two racks are the more green bananas.  How many bunches of bananas are those?  Not sure as there is a lot of variability in bunch sizes, but it is a fair amount.

If you had asked me going into this job what one of my biggest tasks would be, I would not have said bananas - possibly because we do not eat a great many of them but also in that I had no idea how many other people ate them either.  And yet perhaps excluding Roma tomatoes, they remain the item I have to fuss the most about to make sure they are always full.

Or, you might say, I discovered that bananas have great a-peel...

17 comments:

  1. Nylon123:50 AM

    That number of cases...uf da! That's quite the workout TB. From this post a camera setup with time-lapse would result in interesting footage I bet. That last sentence was something you managed to slip in......... :)

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    1. Nylon12, I was genuinely surprised at the amount of bananas we go through. Multiply that every day, in stores throughout the land, and one can understand how bananas are big business indeed.

      A time lapse of a banana display. That would indeed make for an interesting view.

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  2. Getting started on banana puns could turn out to be quite the slippery slope.

    I know the song referenced in the title, and it is trying to be an earworm!

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    1. John, I would never, ever, personally take advantage of the obvious pun and present it - nor put something out there that would be an earworm that might stick in people's heads all day...

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  3. An honest days labor is good for self reflection.

    And better than a Gym.

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    1. Certainly less expensive - good heavens, they pay me for the lifting!

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  4. We don't go through a lot of bananas either. I think mostly that is because we occasionally get an asian variety of bananas that are far more sweet than the dull Cavendish ones sold by supermarkets.

    Somewhere along the lines I have read a book all about the history of bananas... and coffee beans. It is amazing how much of a pickle we have put ourselves in with our agricultural practices. This is the biggest reason we planted those potatoes from Row 7 this year which were bred for taste and not grocery stores. They do taste a lot better, far more than just being homegrown.

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    1. Monocropping and the loss of heirloom varieties has both put us at more risk and made our food intake less interesting. It that way, I suppose, things like Farmer's markets can fill the void that the major grocery stores have left.

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  5. I no longer eat them. Way too high on the glycemic index for my low carb diet. And the reputation for being high in potassium is a myth too. For those like my wife, who can eat sugar with impunity, they are ok, just not very exciting, and it's important not to buy more than can be eaten before getting overripe. It's been noted that the most expensive food you buy is food you throw away, and we discard very little anymore.

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    1. Greg, we hardly buy them at all unless Nighean Gheal is home for a visit - we just do not eat them enough to make them worthwhile. I will have one if I am somewhere they are available, but I prefer them on the less ripe side.

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  6. Anonymous1:26 PM

    I haven't visited here for a while so am out of the loop. Didn't you start a new job, and give up your produce gig? My banana trick is to only buy the singletons, that way I get a variety from green to nicely ripe.
    Dixie

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    1. Hi Dixie! No, Produce (A)isle is still the product job - I do have a another full time job, but I am keeping this one on a part time bases.

      Singletons are a brilliant solution. I say that; people that leave singletons are the bane of my existence.

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  7. Interesting. I didn't realize bananas were so popular. Dan likes them, me not so much. Except I've found that I can whir up ripe bananas in the blender with a tablespoon of cocoa powder and a spoonful of peanut butter to make fantastic sugar-free popsicles.

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    1. Leigh, those sound great! How many bananas do you usually blend?

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    2. I am with Linda - that does sound great!

      Today's setting out was fourteen cases. They really are that popular.

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  8. We eat a lot of bananas here. Some of them, though ripe, don't taste as good as others. But they are good regulators of the intestines when needed. :)
    You all be safe and God bless.

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  9. Linda, I did not know about their intestinal regulator status.

    I can take them or leave them, but there is something about a banana that is just at the right level of ripeness that is amazing. I just do not have the patience to find them.

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