By: Edward J. Barry Jr. • Principal and Jeff Martin • Landscape Architectural Manager
In celebration of National Peace Corps Day several moons ago, I made a presentation to a delightfully rambunctious bunch of elementary school children in Kewanee, Illinois. Naturally, I waxed fondly and passionately on the importance of serving one’s fellow man, and on the value of experiencing the rich cultures outside the boundaries of our American shores. Toward the end of my presentation, I held up a banana (which had been a staple food in all its many forms in East Africa’s Uganda where I had served), and asked if anyone knew where this delightful and nutritious fruit came from. Without skipping a beat, a particularly earnest young man rose to his feet and firmly stated that “Bananas come from Wal-Mart!”
This experience has stayed with me through the intervening years. The earnest young man in that classroom was no doubt trying to be clever and just a bit snarky, too. But he was also revealing the fact that beyond the modern-day grocery store where most of us in the developed world purchase our daily sustenance, he had no idea about the origin of bananas, or their rich botanical history and complexity.