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Going bananas. November 6, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood are big fans of Spencer Soper and his weekly “On the Cheap” column in our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call (www.mcall.com/onthecheap). Every week, Spencer shares fellow cheapsters’ tips on how to save money on everything from garden carts (convert a grill chassis) to laundry soap (make your own). Some are pretty silly, and some simply take more time than they’re worth, but many are genuinely useful and a few are actually brilliant. (We’re still contemplating the possibilities of converting a grill salvaged from the side of the road into a mobile wood storage rack, but of course have no clue how you’d go about removing the grill part…)

But this week’s tip, as Spencer clearly realized, was simply bananas. Even the tipster refused to reveal his last name or phone number, for reasons that will soon become obvious. His tip: Since bananas are sold by the pound, you could save money by peeling them in the store, dropping the peels (on the floor, no doubt, to enhance your fellow shoppers’ appreciation of slapstick), and tossing the peeled fruit into plastic produce bags. Spencer did the math and discovered that, at today’s prices, if you bought two bunches of bananas a week, using this tip, you’d save $936—that would be almost $1,000 for the mathematically challenged, not exactly chump change—over 20 years.

This style of shopping could save shoppers from a lot of composting and recycling over the years. Why take home canned beans or soup when you could simply open the cans and dump the contents into produce bags before checking out? Or open egg cartons, crack the eggs into your trusty plastic bag, and leave those yucky shells and their carton in the store? Why haul home bazillion little yogurt cartons when you could just open them all right in the dairy aisle and squeeze them into a bag? Stupid Coke cans. Just bring a gallon jug from home, pour the soda cans into it, cap the jug, no worries!

Alert readers might point out that our examples are flawed, however, since they’re typically sold by the unit, not by the pound. All righty, then: Why not core peppers or apples and leave the cores in the produce aisle, or cut those slimy seed masses out of cantaloupes and pumpkins and dump them on the floor, scrape the corn off the cobs, bone your fish, chicken or turkey, shuck your oysters or clams, peel your shrimp, shell your peanuts and pistachios?

It might feel a little awkward at first, but surely your fellow shoppers would quickly catch on and applaud your cleverness. In addition to pointing out your savings and how much detritus you were keeping out of your home, you could patriotically announce to any naysayers that, unlike them, you were creating jobs, since the store would have to hire at least one full-time employee to clean up after you. Aren’t you proud of yourself?

Sheesh. We’re relieved to report that even the tipster who shared this brilliant idea hadn’t had the nerve to put it into practice. We here at Poor Richard’s Almanac would like to present him with the Golden Banana Peel Award, and hope that plenty of people were around with their cellphone cameras when he slipped on it. 

For the rest of you, we’d just like to note that, while banana peels aren’t much fun to handle, much less step on, they make great, mineral-rich additions to the compost pile. Your garden (as well as your grocer) will thank you for bringing them home!

Comments»

1. pixilated2 - November 7, 2011

Back in the late 70s early 80s there was a segment on the TV news in California called “The Green Grocer.” He once gave us the tip to “Snap off the long stems of broccoli, because there’s no sense in paying by the pound for the parts you aren’t going to eat anyway.” Well, it wasn’t very long at all before you began to see broccoli marketed as regular, and CROWNS and of course the crowns cost much more per pound! Next came broccoli slaw, made of all the extraneous stems with a few carrot slivers thrown in for color.. Who eats that stuff?

Wonder what they will do to market peeled bananas? Oooh, and what will the geniuses come up with for marketing the peels? GACK!
~ Lynda

Good grief, Lynda, I can’t believe someone on TV actually recommended breaking off broccoli stalks! GACK is right! But, er, I confess that I like broccoli slaw. I put some in our salads to add more texture, fiber, and, of course, more of broccoli’s cancer-preventing compounds. I especially like to add broccoli slaw in winter, when a heartier salad is so appreciated! As for the banana peels, I shudder to think what those innovative marketing types will do. No doubt we’ll soon be reading about the exfoliating, youth-restoring benefits of banana-peel facials!

pixilated2 - November 9, 2011

Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssh! Don’t give them any ideas now!

As for the fellow on TV, well I think his point was “don’t charge us by the pound for what we don’t want to eat.” And didn’t the marketers pick up on the message! Now we pay an exorbitant price for those crowns. It was a meritorious movement to try and control produce marketing… I think it backfired. 😉

Ha! Reader response to the banana-peel tip was uniformly negative (at best) in the local paper. Not a surprise! Thanks for clarifying about the point the TV guy was trying to make, though; now I feel better…


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