Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Are Bananas; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Considers One of the World's Most Popular Fruits

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Are Bananas; in the Latest in His Series on Striking Images, Our Columnist Considers One of the World's Most Popular Fruits

Article excerpt

Byline: Charles Saatchi the naked eye

BEWILDERINGLY, mankind shares 50 per cent of the same DNA as a banana. Even if you are deeply fond of bananas, our biological links to them are somewhat hard to fathom. But perhaps this explains our general affinity for the world's most popular fruit. Seven billion of us consume a billion of them annually, with the average Briton eating 100 bananas a year.

Myths are routinely spread about the danger of bananas being just a little bit radioactive, and with high potassium levels -- probably because of scientific studies produced by researchers funded by other fruit marketers.

Rest assured, there is little to fear unless you manage to eat 400 bananas a day. They do contain a fractional amount of radiation, enough for the US think-tank Nuclear Threat Initiative to maintain that a shipment can trigger sensors used to detect smuggled nuclear material entering US ports. Disconcertingly for the think-tank, the levels are nonetheless negligible, smaller, say, than brazil nuts.

And, conveniently, bananas are used by our bodies to produce serotonin, making us feel relaxed and more content.

Bananas are also surprisingly versatile and are regularly claimed to offer a manifold variety of almost mystical qualities.

Who needs botox when you can use bananas as a natural face mask -- you slather the mashed fruit onto your face and neck, leave for 20 minutes, and voila, you suddenly have softer skin.

More prosaically, banana peel can polish silverware, put a shine on leather shoes and will produce a healthier-looking houseplant if you smooth it on the leaves. They are also effective as fertilisers, producing nutrients in soil and compost. And, most handily for your summer holidays, a banana skin can help cure itchy mosquito bites.

They've never been cheaper but unfortunately this is also leading to vast amounts of wastage among picky shoppers. One in three people reject bananas if there is a single bruise or mark on the skin. …

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