News In Brief

THEY WENT - WELL - BANANAS Go for a nice, long run and you'll probably work up a hearty appetite, right? That must have been the theory last Sunday in Seattle, site of the annual Edgewater 5K Race. Normally, the event attracts about 1,800 entrants, each of whom gets a fresh banana afterward to tide him or her over 'til dinner. Allowing for the superhungry, the sponsors have a few hundred extras on hand, too. Until this year, that is. "When the truck pulled up," one organizer said, "we were like: 'What is this?'" Reason: Someone must have added a zero to the order. Instead of the usual 2,100 bananas there were 21,000. So the runners were told to take all they could carry. When that didn't deplete the supply, the invitation was extended to the homeless. Still, there were eight cases left over. They were donated to a food bank and even a zoo.

Overseas markets opening up for US fruit companies

US citrus growers and banana distributors are looking forward to improved access to foreign markets. The European Union has accepted a World Trade Organization (WTO) finding that the EU unfairly discriminates against Latin American banana producers and their US distributors - in favor of former African and Caribbean colonies. Under WTO rules, the US will keep punitive tariffs on selected European goods while the EU reworks its banana-import policies. Meanwhile, China has agreed to remove trade sanctions and allow US citrus growers access to its massive market. Worldwide, bananas and oranges lead all fruits in total production. The globe's 10 largest fruit crops as of 1997 and their tonnage (in millions):

1. Oranges 66.4

2. Bananas 63.8

3. Grapes 63.1

4. Apples 60.3

5. Watermelons 51.2

6. Coconuts 50.7

7. Plantains 32.7

8. Mangoes 24.2

9. Tangerines, clementines, satsumas 17.1

10. Pears 14.4

- 'The Top 10 of Everything 1999'

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