How Sustainable Bananas are Produced at EARTH University in Costa Rica

Written by Max Goldberg on February 24, 2012. Follow Max on Twitter: @livingmaxwell.

When I was at EARTH University in Costa Rica, I got a chance to learn everything about sustainable banana production – from how they are grown in the fields to how they are shipped to the U.S.

In this video, I’ll take you onto the banana plantation of EARTH University and show you the issues that they have to deal with when growing bananas in such humid conditions.

What’s important to note is that it took EARTH University many, many years for its sustainable bananas to reach profitability and the school was told by consultants that the program wasn´t going to work.

EARTH University’s president refused to give up because he knew that this was the right way to do business – for the environment, for the farm workers, for consumers – even though his bananas were more expensive than conventionally-grown ones.

Whole Foods recognized the importance of what EARTH University was doing and the values that it stood for, and decided to distribute the school’s bananas throughout the U.S. Not only has this partnership been critical for the long-viability of EARTH University’s banana program, but the strong demand for the school’s bananas has proven that sustainability is good business.

Without question, EARTH University’s bananas are the best that I have ever eaten. If you have the chance to buy them, definitely do so.

You’ll be eating a fantastic product and also be supporting an incredibly important endeavor for sustainability.

Also, being such a huge fan of bananas, I can’t tell you how interesting this day was for me. Enjoy!

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14 Comments

  1. Very interesting that the venture wasn’t expected to be profitable. I’m so happy and grateful that there are people and companies like Earth University and Whole Foods that support ventures like this for reasons other than short term profit.

    Written by Mary Ann MacKay on February 24, 2012 @ 6:50 pm
  2. Hi Mary Ann,

    As I have been told, the people that told EARTH to close down the banana venture were environmental consultants.

    And I agree – it is fantastic that Whole Foods came in to support this amazing venture. Plus, their bananas are ridiculously good!!!

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on February 25, 2012 @ 9:51 am
  3. How can we tell they are EARTH bananas? Would love to support those growers.

    Written by Becky on February 25, 2012 @ 7:20 pm
  4. THANKS FOR THE FINE ARTICLE AND PRESENTATION.I buy bananas from Whole Foods, and know to stay clear of anything with the name Dole on it. BBut my WF bananas have a label that indicates they are Organic, Whole Trade GUARANTEE (which I do not like), and come fro Peru. So it’s a good bet they are not the ones to which you refer (plus these bananas are mediocre in flavor, and actually have some off flavors (think coffees scented garlic, tasting bananas). Sigh.

    Written by Imegahan on February 25, 2012 @ 9:18 pm
  5. Hello,

    No, those are not the EARTH University bananas. And to be honest, I am not a huge fan of the bananas from Peru. The taste just doesn’t do it for me.

    Why do you not like the Whole Trade Guarantee?

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on February 28, 2012 @ 9:37 pm
  6. Hi Becky,

    There is an EARTH sticker on the bananas or EARTH logo on the bag of frozen bananas.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on February 28, 2012 @ 9:38 pm
  7. Do you have any idea why Whole Foods has not carried Earth bananas for at least 2 months? We miss them so much, they are so much better than any other brand! I keep asking Whole Foods and they say they will have them back but it’s never been this long that they have been without them.

    Written by Sal on March 27, 2012 @ 6:03 am
  8. Hi Sal,

    I am sorry but I do not have an explanation for why this is.

    What store do you normally buy them at? I’ll do my best to try to get an answer for you.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 28, 2012 @ 2:03 am
  9. Thanks,

    We shop in St. Louis, MO.

    Written by Sal on March 28, 2012 @ 10:18 am
  10. Thanks Sal. As soon as I hear something, I will let you know.

    Live well,
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on March 28, 2012 @ 2:25 pm
  11. FYI it is absolutely NOT correct that they do not use pesticides at EARTH for their bananas. They do not use pesticides inside the bags, and they do not use herbicides on the ground, but 1/week they spray the entire plantation with pesticides/fungicide from airplane, and the 4th week they spray with efficient micrororganisms (EM). If they didnt use pesticides, they could call themselves organic, but they do, so they cant. I have been to EARTH twice and am doing a feature article on them right now. Just saying! :)

    Written by Wendee Nicole on May 4, 2013 @ 3:58 pm
  12. Hi Wendee,

    When I was there, I was unequivocally told that pesticides were not used. Maybe things have changed since. Additionally, what you are saying is incorrect. Just because they don’t use pesticides does not mean they can call themselves organic. Organic requires third-party certification and fungicides cannot be used either.

    Please send me your article on EARTH when it is finished.

    Thanks!
    Max

    Written by Max Goldberg on May 5, 2013 @ 3:20 pm
  13. […] love for bananas extends to all parts of the world, and I saw this first-hand when I visited a banana plantation in Costa Rica. In fact, people who dedicate their life’s work to bananas are affectionately called […]

  14. […] love for bananas extends to all parts of the world, and I saw this first-hand when I visited a banana plantation in Costa Rica. In fact, people who dedicate their life’s work to bananas are affectionately called […]

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