In Defense Of Bananas - The Reykjavik Grapevine

In Defense Of Bananas

In Defense Of Bananas

Published April 26, 2016

Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Photos by
Kelley Rees

Bananas have been talked about a lot over the past few weeks in regards to bad politics. We thought we’d restore their good name, so we went to have a look at the biggest banana greenhouse in Europe, situated in Hveragerði.

We met up with Elías Óskarsson, manager of the greenhouses owned by the Agricultural University of Iceland. He’s aware of everything there is to know about each and every greenhouse plant. Genuinely passionate about the subject, he showed us around.

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The 500-square-meter greenhouse was built in 1950 with the purpose of having experiments growing bananas for consumption. At the time — due, in large part, to World War Two — it was difficult importing bananas, amongst other fruits.

“But as the bananas need 18 months to be edible it quickly became clear that it wasn’t viable,” Elías says laughing. “We carried this plantation on because it’s definitely an attraction for tourists.”

Moreover, the greenhouse has a significant educational purpose, allowing students at the university to partake in the agricultural process.

Each plant can only make one cluster of bananas. After that it needs to be cut so others can grow. Surprisingly, it’s not hard at all to grow bananas in a country as bleak as Iceland.

“It’s more difficult to keep them in check because they keep on growing at a fast pace,” Elías says.

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When asked his opinion of the banana in relation to Icelandic politics, he says without any hesitation: “Well, I don’t agree with throwing food away. There are better ways to have an opinion than to throw stuff and try to hurt people.” Even though he doesn’t agree with the politics right now, he adds, “I think it’s all corrupt and they seem to think about their own benefits rather than to think about the country.” That’s also why he doesn’t like bananas being associated with politics.

 


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