I was pleased to read a recent news article commenting that Asda is the first UK supermarket to sell Canarian bananas through 230 of its UK stores. This initiative represents the first time in recent history that bananas from the Canary Islands are sold commercially outside the usual markets in Spain and Portugal. Other UK supermarkets, including Marks and Spencer, are also reportedly examining a similar scheme.
Until recently, I had not been aware that the carbon footprint of the banana, as well as other tropical fruit and vegetables, is very high. As well as Canary Islands bananas being a better quality and more flavoursome variety, Asda is also aiming to reduce the banana’s carbon footprint, and will therefore cancel its Central American imports in favour of bananas from the Canary Islands. Conveniently, importing a better banana to the UK also comes with added benefits, making good commercial, as well as environmental sense.
In future, Canarian bananas destined for Asda stores will be shipped to Peninsular Spain and then transported by road to ripening centres in the UK. This will mean that the journey will take just four days compared with twenty-four days for produce from Central America, which is a reduction in transportation time of over 80 per cent. As a result, the fruit will be much fresher by the time that it reaches British stores. Canarian bananas will be sold under the well-known Fyffes brand in the UK.
It is appropriate that the UK throws its full weight behind the Canarian banana. After all, it was in the 19th Century that an Englishman living in the Canary Islands spotted a business opportunity from bananas. His company imported the dwarf banana from the Far East and grew it on the islands. The company exported the bananas to England, and by 1878 many cargoes of bananas were leaving the Canary Islands for the UK.
Few people nowadays realise the impact that bananas from the Canary Islands made to the economy of the UK. Bananas were once unloaded in the very centre of what is now London’s vibrant financial district, which takes its name from the No. 10 Warehouse of the South Quay Import Dock, built in 1952 for the Canary Islands’ fruit trade. This grey glass, concrete and steel paradise proudly retains the name Canary Wharf to this day.
As holiday makers to the Canary Islands will already know, it is the warm sea currents that give the Canary islands a sub tropical climate. Despite the popularity of the islands as an all year round tourist destination, it is the banana that is still the islands’ most important product after tourism. Away from the sun-drenched beaches, extensive banana plantations dominate the landscape of the archipelago. The varieties currently grown in the Canary Islands are dwarf bananas, which are smaller, creamier, sweeter, and have a more intense flavour than the varieties produced in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Personally, I much prefer the Canary Islands banana to any of the other tasteless varieties, but then I guess I am biased. Do try a real Canary Islands’ banana for yourself and you will see what I mean. Incidentally, local banana flavoured rum is also delicious, as well as being made from local bananas!
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his latest book, ‘Message in a Bottle’ (ISBN: 978 1480 031005). Available as paperback, Kindle and iBook
© Barrie Mahoney
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/38368/
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