Thursday, December 9, 2010

Food: Should We Worry About the Banana?

Bananas are a staple fruit for many of us. Remarkably inexpensive and available all year round. There's some special about the banana.

That something special may be the downfall of the banana as we know it today. Which shouldn't be too much of a surprise because the banana we know today, the Cavendish, is not the banana we once knew and loved. Until the middle of the 20th century the banana of choice was the Gros Michel. A fungal infection called Panama disease almost wiped out the banana industry. Now there are warnings that the Cavendish may be in for some trouble. Panama disease has started to wipe out Cavendish bananas in some parts of the world. We may need to find another type of banana to replace the Cavendish.

The alarms have been raised for a while. National Geographic wrote about the problem in 2001. Popular Science covered the issue in 2005. The Smithsonian Magazine also covered bananas in 2005. In 2009 Damn Interesting had an article entitled The Unfortunate Sex Life of the Banana.

If you like bananas, and if you like the taste and texture of the Cavendish - the current banana, then you may end up telling tales about how bananas used to be and how they used to taste. That's if we're lucky. If we're unlucky we'll be telling people about this amazing fruit that was long and curved and yellow and that apparently had a peel that was very slippery.

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