This book about bananas is on my to-read list, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World.
I kind of a fan of bananas. After all, I’m a cyclist. There is no food so closely associated with a sport as the banana is to cycling. The image–see above–of the banana in the bike jersey pocket is ubiquitous. They’re easy to digest. Easy to unpeel while riding. And their packaging is biodegradable. Just be sure to chuck it into the grass so no one skids on the peel who is riding behind you. And of course, they’re good for you. Read Bananas Are An Athletes’ Go-To Snack: “Bananas are an athlete’s staple. They pack a nutritional punch with high levels of potassium, vitamin B6 and fibre and (despite common belief to the contrary) they score low on the Glycemic Index, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar. They’re also versatile and can be used in everything from smoothies to sandwiches. Here with a few of our favourite ways to enjoy this yellow super-fruit.”
But now we’re worried about their fate. How much longer will bananas be around? We’ve created a monoculture it seems. Almost all bananas, nearly 99%, are of the Cavendish variety. Global reliance on the Cavendish variety is giving the fruit an uncertain future. See Disease give bananas an ‘uncertain future’
See also Scientists ‘incredibly concerned’ for fate of banana as plagues and fungus infections spread across world’s supplies: “The world’s supply of bananas is under threat from plagues of bugs and fungal infections which could be disastrous if they continue to spread, researchers say.The government in Costa Rica, one of the biggest suppliers of the fruit, has already declared a “national emergency” over the state of its crop.The country’s half-a-billion-dollar banana export industry has been hit by two separate plagues of mealybugs and scale insects, with up to 20 per cent of its produce written off.”
It seems a bit self centred, or cyclist centred, to care about bananas when humanity seems committed to wiping everything non human off the planet. We’re doing a number on animals that’s for sure. “The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.” The Guardian
But enough about the rest of the world, let’s get back to me and bananas: The science is interesting. Bananas are all clones. That’s right. Clones. “The most commonly sold and eaten banana is the Cavendish. Every single Cavendish banana is genetically EXACTLY the same. They are all clones, descendants of one single banana. In fact, they’re all sterile, and each new banana plant has to be manually planted from a cutting of existing banana roots.”
They didn’t used to be all Cavendish bananas. “Up to the 1950s the most common banana was not the Cavendish, but the Gros Michel (also known as Big Mike). So maybe it’s not just old people being old and curmudgeonly, maybe it’s true that bananas were tastier back then. However, the Gros Michel was wiped out by a fungus, fusarium oxysporum to be exact, which caused Panama disease. The fungus attacked the roots of banana plants and was also resistant to fungicide. To compound the problem, all Gros Michel were identical clones, therefore they were all as susceptible, causing to fungus to spread across plantations incredibly quickly. The Cavendish was chosen as a replacement, since it’s resistant to this fungus.” See Bananas are all clones! And 6 more bananas! facts about bananas.
Usually I eat bananas plain, just out of the peel, though sometimes I get fancy and slice them on top of oatmeal. When I’m feeling really adventurous, or hungry, it’s the peanut butter and banana sandwich.
I haven’t made these before but they sound great: Vegan banana & peanut butter cupcakes.
What’s your favourite way to enjoy bananas while they’re still around?