Bananas; the Golden Treasure of the Tropics

Jul 29, 2012 by

Edward Perry wrote Bananas; the Golden Treasure of the Tropics first published in 1905. Bananas are one of my favorite foods and I am happy to have found this interesting book to share with you.

Here is a bit of text from the book to give you a feel of what Edward Perry has to say about the perfect food…bananas: “Bananas may be grown wherever there is some moisture and no near approach to the frost line ; but a touch of frost cuts down the banana as a breath from a fiery furnace would blight a tender lily. The city of Tegucigalpa is 3,600 feet above the level of the sea, yet in that town is a field some thirty feet above the current in the swift river which it borders. It is very dry during months of each year, but in that field are platanos which reach a height of more than twenty feet and bear bunches enough comfortably to support the owner. In narrow canon and wider valley near that place are many patches of bananas which bring to their planters a suflicient income. And at that altitude the mercury sometimes falls below 65° Fahrenheit. In the land of bananas, cats, dogs and pigs, mules, horses and cattle, parrots, babies and all other domestic animals thrive on this perfect nature-food, when they can get it. I have seen an Indian woman pry open with her fingers the jaws of a haby peccary, and with a gruel of green bananas choke the little pig’s incessant, rasping cry of “ma, ma !” And the next instant she put that same calabash of gruel to the lips of her own babe of three or four months. I’ve seen other Indians feed infant tapir, suckling jaguar, naked squabs of parrots and very young monkeys on such pap, which those folk call wabool.

With such fruit I, myself, have safely carried abandoned cardinals through from their infant days of scant pin feathers to those of full regimentals of brilliant scarlet with epaulets of jet; and they overflowed with joyful song and saucy happiness as much as they could had worms and bugs been the chief of their diet every day of their lives, instead of the bananas on which they had been largely fed. Why not, indeed, when cakes and beer, brandy and sugar, pies, puddings and sauce, banana coffee and chocolate, and many another thing good for man to take for his stomach’s sake, are made from bananas. So, too, are paper and laces, brushes and cloth, and cordage enough to pull up the earth by its roots, if only we had a place to hook the tackle. When he has set out an acre or two of bananas, the planter need have no fears for the future. He has ample insurance against such privations as come from illness, accident or old age : and they who by a little labor pay for such insurance share each day its material benefits. No need for them to die that others may enjoy the blessings of such wise provision ; nor need the planter toil with hoe or spade, cultivator or plow. It may be he will slash away with machete such vine or sapling, grass or weed as happens to obstruct his path ; but as a whole he interferes as little as possible with the operations of kindly Mother Nature. She is more than ready to do his work : he is willing to let her do it. He whose acre of bananas has been well planted has on it 225 hills, or 900 stalks. Each stalk will give him a bunch which, on rich, new ground, should weigh 60 pounds, say 54,000 pounds each 12 or 14 months. That is the theory. The fact seems to be that the average yield is really 275 to 300 full bunches to the acre per annum, say a mean of 285 bunches weighing about 17,000 pounds. As has been shown, the average yield reported all along the Caribbean shore and from Jamaica, during a dozen years, equaled 284.8 full bunches an acre per annum.”  Enjoy!



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