Plantains and Cassava

I like to gain new knowledge and I did this week. My understanding and perspective of my world expanded. Believe it or not, the process began in the produce section of my local grocery store.

I have developed a love for plantains. If you do not know plantains then the next time you are in the produce section of your grocery store look around the bananas. Usually there are few plantains. They look like oversized bananas.

I grew curious about plantains and was surprised to discover they are the 10th most common staple food item in the world. When I looked at the list, most of the top ten are what I consider to be common: rice, wheat, potatoes. However, I was shocked to learn the fifth item in the list is cassava. I have never eaten cassava and it is fifth in the world! Cassava is the root shown in the picture.

The fifth and tenth most common foods are not common in my world. My little food adventure made me aware of my local and parochial thinking.

My education continued. I was looking at populations as background for a poem I was writing. My world perspective was greatly adjusted by what I found.

I live in Mobile, Alabama, population 333.000.

Forty-five miles west is the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi metropolitan area, population 418,000. 

Forty-five miles east is Pensacola, Florida, population 356,000.

Further west is New Orleans, Louisiana, population, 1,000,000.

A little further west is Baton Rouge, Louisiana, population, 746,000.

North of Mobile is Birmingham, Alabama, population, 849,000.

North of Birmingham is Nashville, Tennessee, population, 1,200,000.

Northwest of Mobile is Jackson, Mississippi, population, 426,000.

Further northwest is Memphis, Tennessee, population, 1,156,000.

Northeast of Mobile is Atlanta, Georgia, population, 5,911,000.

Shenzhen, Bangalore, Lahore, Tianjin, Chongqing and Dhaka ae not cities in the southern United States. They are not cities with which I have familiarity.

Here is what expanded my knowledge — each city has a population larger than the COMBINED population of the regional cities with which I am familiar. Understanding one city held more people than all of my familiar cities expanded my mind and shrunk my view of my living experiences.

I dug further. Alabama has a population of 4.9 million people. At least 80 cities in the world have a larger population than the state of Alabama.

My understanding of the size, power and importance of China grew. Sixteen of those cities are in China.

My view of my living situation changed considerably by understanding the governor of my state has responsibilities for far fewer people than many mayors.

To put my awareness in perspective, I speculated about how many of those people in those cities care whether Alabama beats Auburn in football. In my state it means everything, but most of the people in the world will not even know the game is played. If people had a better sense of their place in the world maybe no one would get shot over a football game.

As my understanding of the world grew so did my humility about my life. I hope the knowledge made me wiser. I know the knowledge made me more thankful.

Good news headlines this week from Sunny Skyz:

     You Are the Best Part of My Day!’ Girl With Special Needs Forms Friendship with Sanitation Worker.

     It All Worked!’ Ship Collects 20,000 Pounds of Trash from Ocean.

     Video Shows Deputy Save Child Who Was Hiding Under Blanket During House Fire.

     I Won’t Stop Until It Happens’: Michael J. Fox Raises $1 Billion To Find Cure for Parkinson’s

     One Day After Brain Surgery, This Teacher Read a Book To Her Students On Facebook Live

Jeny is in the penultimate week before her final treatment. She had a good week in part because friends from our past took the time to visit.

First, we had a visit with Collette Hewitt Hinson and her husband Gary. Colette was a student at Illinois State when I taught there. She attended our fellowship group. We recalled many good friends and good times.

Second, we ate with Carleton and Loraine Eaton. Carl and his family were our first neighbors in Normal Illinois. He recently lost his mother, our dear, long-time friend, Anne Eaton. We had many good memories.

Then my cousins from St Louis visited us in Gulf Shores. Always good to see them.

The visits were great encouragements to Jeny and great joy for me.

Peace

Jerry


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