Fresh Banana Leaves


In Fresh Banana Leaves, Dr. Jessica Hernandez weaves incisive commentary and insight from historical and scientific processes with deeply personal accounts. These narratives uproot existing Western frameworks when thinking about Indigeneity, science, and environmentalism and make a powerful call to assess our roles in these issues — a call to take responsibility for the planet we live on, the planet that sustains us. 


In eight chapters, Dr. Hernandez discusses topics such as ecocolonialism, Indigenous science and teachings, ecofeminism, and more. My favorite chapter is Chapter 7, Ancestral Foods: Cooking with Fresh Banana Leaves, where she describes issues such white saviorism, colonialism through agriculture, and the impact of climate change on food insecurity and tradition. She also illustrates the displacement of both plants and peoples through the lens of banana trees and cooking with banana leaves. We see the grief, the resilience, and the way that communities come together in mutual aid. Fresh Banana Leaves is an essential Indigenous perspective: a book of science and storytelling urgently needed in the field of environmental science and climate science. 


“Wrapping the tamales in banana leaves serves as the metaphor that despite it all – climate change and political turmoil that continue to oppress us Indigenous peoples – our resilience is as strong as a tamal once it is wrapped with banana leaves. Our existence and history as Indigenous peoples are intertwined like the veins in a banana leaf.” (p. 209)