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Задание 867

According to the text, we mostly consume the bananas which …

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The truth about bananas

When I was in college, I had a professor who had some strange habits. Every now and then, this professor came to class with the sticker from a banana on his shirt. One day a student asked him what was with the stickers. He replied, solemnly, “Oh. Yeah. Well, whenever I have a banana for breakfast that has a sticker on it, I put the sticker on my shirt to remind me of the suffering of the banana pickers in Latin America, who sometimes earn just 50c for a 12-hour day of work in grueling conditions. I wear it to show my solidarity with them, as a silent protest for better treatment.” From that day on, we saw the professor in a completely new light and we started thinking about bananas differently too. As I was later to discover, almost nothing about bananas is as it seems.

On a trip to Costa Rica, the major exporters of bananas, I saw endless banana plantations and visited a botanical garden where a botanist shared some fascinating details about banana trees. He said there are about 300 varieties of banana, but only a small fraction is cultivated commercially. The edible type of banana grown in Costa Rica is a hybrid that is larger and sweeter than its naturally occurring ancestors.

Among the other interesting tidbits we learned was that banana “trees” are not even trees  they’re the world’s largest perennial herbs. The distinction is not merely academic; the stems, which may appear to be solid trunks, are simply multiple layers of very large leaves that could be cut through with a regular knife. In fact, the stems often break under the weight of the bananas and need to be supported with poles.

Bananas also have an unusual life cycle. Normally, the primary reason for a plant to bear any sort of fruit in the first place is to propagate itself, since the fruit contains the seed. Modern, commercial strains of banana don’t have seeds. Seedless fruit-bearing plants normally propagate only with human help, because the plant has no natural way to regenerate when it dies. Each banana plant produces just one bunch of fruit over its lifetime of about a year and then dies or at least appears to. But the stem above ground is just a portion of the plant, the so-called pseudostem. There is also an underground stem, called a rhizome, which produces new shoots at the base of the visible stem. These begin growing into new, flowering stems just as the old one is dying. The new plant, then, really isn’t new at all, and is genetically identical to its predecessor.

These peculiarities aside, bananas are simply tasty. They are also an excellent source of potassium and are extremely good for keeping scoops of ice cream aligned in a dish. Bananas have been referred to as “the world’s most popular fruit,” “the world’s most popular tropical fruit,” “America’s most popular fruit,” and a variety of other designations in the upper strata of fruit stardom, based on different metrics for assessing popularity. In any case, Americans, and much of the rest of the world, certainly consume immense quantities of bananas.

But what about banana pickers? I’m sorry to say it’s true. The life of the average banana picker is still rather bleak. But if the producers paid their workers a living wage, bananas would become so expensive that few people would buy them, thus reducing demand, and so on. For my part, I wear banana stickers just as my professor did, not because I think it will have any tangible impact, but to remind myself of the real price of bananas.



were grown in botanical gardens.
were picked on plantations in Costa Rica.
ripe naturally on banana trees.
are specially cultivated. - Правильный ответ
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