Sunny is the winner of last week’s contest to answer the question of why organic bananas come with a little piece of plastic around the stems but non-organic bananas do not. She wrote:
Beth, from this website (http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Plasticizers/Out-Of-Diet-PG5nov03.htm) I think it’s to prevent mold.
“Organic bananas now come from wholesalers with a sticky plastic wrapping the cut stem to protect the bananas from a black mold. The mold is controlled on non-organic bananas by dipping the cut ends in a fungicide.”
I wanted to check out this answer for myself before awarding the prize, so I sent an email to Dole’s customer service asking the question, and they responded thus:
To: Beth Terry
Subject: Dole Contact Us Response, Reference #001147431A
Date: Thu, 15 May 2008 17:57:49 -0400
Dear Ms. Terry,
Thank you for contacting us. The plastic cover seals the surface of the cut-crown on the top of the cluster to protect the quality and the health of the crown. The air-tight parafilm seal helps maintain the products freshness and quality appeal.
We appreciate your interest in Dole Food Company. We’re glad to provide the information you requested and hope it is useful.
It’s been a pleasure to help you.
Dole Consumer Response Staff
001147431A / DCR/cl
From Dole’s answer and from Sunny’s research, it sounds like the plastic is used on organic bananas because they can’t be dipped into the usual chemicals that regular bananas are dipped in. Michael says he once heard, in fact, that you shouldn’t peel a non-organic banana and then touch the inside fruit with your hands because the pesticides will rub off onto the fruit you are going to eat. Scary, huh?
All right, here’s last week’s tally. It’s a big one! Items used this week but purchased before the plastic project began:
- 2 strips of tape pulled off boxes we used to make signs for the Bay to Breakers yesterday. Yep. It happened! I got two very enthusiastic volunteers, Tanya and Christa, to march with me in the Bay to Breakers, so I did have to walk across SF dressed as a BRITA filter after all. Tanya and Christa made their own costumes and we all carried signs and handed out flyers. It was an awesome day, and I’ll post pictures as soon as I get them from Christa’s camera.
- A huge hunk of duct tape from costume-making session. We already had this tape, so I figured I’d use it. Turns out duct tape isn’t good for everything, as some people like to think. It pulled up off the cardboard, and I ended up replacing it with brown paper tape, which worked just fine. Wish I’d known that ahead of time and not wasted all this crazy duct tape, which I guess should be saved for, um, ducts.
New plastic waste purchased and generated last week:
- 2 plastic tubs (#5 plastic) and two lids (#4 plastic) from Indian take-out. Michael asked before picking up this food if they could serve it in cardboard boxes rather than plastic. They assured him they would. Imagine his surprise when he picked up these two plastic containers. “Oh, we didn’t know you meant everything.” My lesson: Give up the freakin’ take-out. The convenience is not worth the waste anyway, plastic or otherwise.
- 1 piece of plastic from another bunch of organic bananas. See above.
- Plastic bag from a gift of Scharffen Berger truffles from friends. I think our friends actually received these chocolates from another friend and then passed some on to us. Still, we are the final recipients of the plastic bag, so it goes into my tally.
- 2 straws from a cup of coffee from The Mint. We went to The Mint Karaoke Lounge after the Bay to Breakers to hang out and celebrate. Who would have thought they’d put bar straws into plain old coffee?
- 1 plastic wrap from a 24-pack of Instinct canned cat food. I have been researching homemade cat food, but I came to a road block this past week. A vet referred me to the nutrition clinic at the U.C. Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hopital. They specialize in homemade diets for animals. But the nutritionist I spoke with said they will not recommend a homemade diet for animals under one year old because it’s hard to meet all their nutritional needs when they are that young. She recommended I stick with the commercial cat food for another few months and then call them again.
So what do you think? We’re feeding them cat food from all these cans every day, cans which are lined with BPA and which must be recycled. We can’t feed them dry food because every time we try they get diarrhea, no matter what brand. (And believe me, we have tried many many brands, including Pet Promise, Wellness, Instinct, Nutro, Hills, and others.) I’d like to make their food, but the nutritionist has me worried that I might not give them everything they need. I’m at a stand-still at this point.
That’s it for last week. Can’t wait to show you the pictures from yesterday and break some more exciting news from the Take Back The Filter campaign!
P.S. Michael broke his last year’s Bay to Breakers record with a time of 55:29! He placed 582 out of 22,439 finishers! I was not one of those finishers, as our little group made a detour at around Mile 6 and headed for the costume contest and Polish sausages. We all have different priorities, right?