I was at Trader Joe’s this weekend when I found there were no bananas to be had. None. A big multi-tiered display completely devoid of a single ‘nana. I was so annoyed I found myself blurting, “What’s the point of suppressing democracy in Central America if we can’t have any Goddamn bananas!” This was to the horror of my shopping partner and all conscientious shoppers within earshot.
I calmed myself and gripped my Live Strong wristband that read “What Would the Uptight Seattleite do?” Surely, there was a dearth of bananas due to some supply-chain mix-up, perhaps the bananas didn’t reach the Trader Joe’s high standards. I decided to try the more plebeian Safeway, assured that that this was only a minor inconvenience. I found four bananas, only two of which were even connected to one another. The same paltry selection went for QFC as well.”
By this time I was more curious than mortified that I couldn’t dice ‘em over my Raisin Bran. I looked into it (thanks Al Gore) and couldn’t find any news about a shortage this year. I did find one story published today about maneuvering between growers and the corporations that buy their produce in the Philippines. I called my local Safeway only to find that they had just received a fresh shipment of green bananas early this morning. The customer service rep attributed the shortage to “someone must have forgot to order them or something.” Suspicious.
So it seems the mysterious two day banana famine of 2008 is over. The damage was more psychic than physical, but Lord only knows how dangerously low my potassium levels could have crept by Sunday.
I did discover in the course of my research that banana shortages are nothing new, and indeed, whenever times have been hard there have always been banana shortages. A woman cited in a blog post that her father who grew up in WWII London didn’t see or eat a banana until he was a teenager. There was even a major hit song from 1923 entitled Yes, We Have No Bananas that’s gained significant cultural traction over the years in times of hardship or banana crisis:There's a fruit store on our street
It's run by a Greek
And he keeps good things to eat But you should hear him speak!
When you ask him anything, he never answers "no"
He just "yes"es you to death, and as he takes your dough He tells you
"Yes, we have no bananas
We have-a no bananas today
We've string beans, and onions
Cabashes, and scallions,
And all sorts of fruit and say
We have an old fashioned tomato
A Long Island potato But yes, we have no bananas
We have no bananas today