What’s Wrong with Bananas

How industrial agriculture stole sex from our most important fresh fruit crop. BY NORMAN C. ELLSTRAND Of the important global crops, the banana is the most genetically uniform. A single cluster of nearly identical genotypes, the Cavendish subgroup, nearly monopolizes the world’s banana groves and banana trade. In contrast to the riotous rainbow of genetic diversity that lends sustainability to natural plant and animal populations, the world’s banana industry has the stability of an upside-down Egyptian pyramid balanced on its tip. That fact leads to another superlative: The commercial banana is the world’s most endangered major crop. The future of … Continue reading What’s Wrong with Bananas

How to Be a Good Creature: Naturalist Sy Montgomery on What 13 Animals Taught Her About Otherness, Love, and the Heart of Our Humanity

Illustration by Rebecca Green from How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery. “Our world, and the worlds around and within it, is aflame with shades of brilliance we cannot fathom — and is far more vibrant, far more holy, than we could ever imagine.” BY MARIA POPOVA “To be a good human being,” philosopher Martha Nussbaum observed, “is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control” — to have, that is, a willingness to regard with an openhearted curiosity what is other than ourselves and therefore strange, discomfiting, difficult to fathom and relate to, difficult … Continue reading How to Be a Good Creature: Naturalist Sy Montgomery on What 13 Animals Taught Her About Otherness, Love, and the Heart of Our Humanity