125. The Lovely Banana

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What a wonderful fruit the banana is, popular all over the world. Its three colors tell you how ripe it is. Green means go, as in go find another banana. Yellow means eat me. Brown means eat me but don't bother chewing before you swallow. The only thing that would make a banana more user-friendly is if you could eat the peel. Plus, a banana is neat to eat. When you bite into it, you don't have to worry about juice squirting all over yourself and your dinner neighbors (like oranges or grapefruit, for example). And it's a silent food, you can chew it all you like without driving your neighbors crazy with crunching sounds (like apples or carrots, for example). Finally, it's easy to cut, you don't need a steak knife. You can slice it with a fork or a spoon, if you like.

You're never too young or too old to eat bananas. Babies eat mashed bananas before their teeth grow in. Great-great-grandparents eat mashed bananas after their teeth fall out.

The banana is versatile. You can fry it, bake it, mash it, or eat it raw. You can slice it and put it on your breakfast cereal. At lunchtime you can snack on a raw banana, or make a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or eat a bag of dried bananas. You can add a banana to your ice cream for dessert and call it a banana split. You can order a healthful banana smoothie at your local smoothie store. On weekends you can order a banana daiquiri at your local bar or restaurant.

Here in the US, we get most of our bananas from Ecuador and Costa Rica, although the fruit reportedly originated in Asia. Bananas give us lots of potassium and vitamins A and C, and hardly any sodium. The price of bananas hasn't changed much over recent years, they're still about 65 cents a pound, despite rising gas and labor prices. If that's too expensive, you can still get three pounds for a buck at many dollar stores.

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