I have of late, but wherfore I cannot quite articulate, become wary of bananas. In these situations when I can’t quite put my finger on it…I rant.
The first hint that bananas need some questioning came from the scallop-filled mouth of my former boss at the Barking Dog Restaurant, George. Having grown up in Greece, George always had a bit of information to share with you that would in some way contribute to his central thesis that his native country was far superior to America, or any other nation or civilization that ever existed on the Planet Earth. That includes you, Mayans. Don’t even think about it, Druids. Did someone say something about the Pyramids?…I assure you the Greeks built them and transported them to Egypt. How could the Egyptians do it by themselves? Their ineptitude is evident in their cave drawings that make the Greeks look like Aliens!
“You have to eat peppers. Peppers are good source of potassium. You need potassium in this business because you are on your feet all day. A lot of these people think bananas are the best source, but it’s not true.”
Outraged, I had to interject: “Whoa! Whoa. George, you’re trying to tell me bell peppers have more potassium than bananas?!”
“Yes!” he insisted, further driving home the point with a signature fist-pound on the table, creating an effective jingle of cutlery, sugar caddy, and salt & pepper shakers. “Everyone thinks that bananas are best source of potassium but that’s because they don’t use their brain. They don’t use their brain!” (fist pound)
Although originally domesticated in Mexico, bell peppers became a regular element of Greek Cuisine. Bananas, however, did not. So my assumption was that George was getting his facts mixed up as he was trying to further illustrate the brilliance of Greece, the country he brags about so much, but after 34 years has yet to return to.
I let it be, and planned to look it up when I got home.
Always the scatter brain, I of course forgot to. But it was six months later when I was transitioning to veganism that I thought it might be a good idea to learn about nutrition so that I wouldn’t die from malnutrition. Sure enough, under the caption “Potassium”:
“Though bananas have somehow become famous as potassium-rich foods, in fact mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and strawberries all have more potassium per calorie than bananas.” Becoming Vegan by Breanda Davis & Vesanto Melina
Peppers weren’t even listed, but…potatoes? What kind of nonsense are these vegans spouting? For a more thorough list, I checked out a nutrition website, in which bananas ranks a solid 38th on the list of nutrient density (all the other sites say the same thing in a less organized and thorough manner):
Even if this number isn’t entirely accurate (nutrient density isn’t particularly telling when considering turmeric), the point remains that there are LOTS of sources of potassium other than bananas.
Every single person I have ever asked the question “what would you say is the best source of potassium is” says “bananas.” Nine out of ten can’t name another source. Haven’t had anyone name three (and I asked a lot of people because I’m a big dork).
If I were to ask someone what the best source of protein is I would no doubt get lots and lots of answers. I can only think of one other nutrient that has gets the same treatment:
Calcium! Ah yes, calcium. But of course you must drink milk to get calcium. Well, let’s peek at the list, just in case.
So there are other sources? I don’t need an explanation for this one. The Dairy Industry pumps a lot of money into commercials to make sure you’re of the mindset that “Milk Does a Body Good”. Thus, Calcium = Cow’s Milk. So the question arises, why does Potassium = Bananas?
Who is the mastermind behind this fallacy? For the life of me I could’ve sworn there was a Banana Council, but it turns out that the “Council” belongs to Peanuts (Don’t think I’m not watching you too, peanuts!). But alas, I can’t seem to find any sort of big organization online that’s brainwashing us into thinking bananas are the only way to get some K (the element on the Periodic table, not the special cereal or rave-drug).
I’m watching you, bananas. Aside from this guy, I think I’m the only one out there.
Some other things to think about. Why is this exotic fruit that’s primarily grown in South America and Southern Asia SO easy to find ALL the time? Ever notice that in old literature bananas are described as this exotic fruit that people are dazzled by (much like it’s less ubiquitous potassium co-champion, the kiwi). So why so common? It’s not like it’s super addictive like coffee is. Ever needed a “banana fix”? Why is it always sliced into bowls of cereal on Kellogs commercials? I want answers.
I want answers!
Who am I kidding? I just want to rant. Thanks for letting me rant.