Bananas, like most of our foods, have been heavily modified over many years to better suit our tastes and needs. Even the bananas we are accustomed to right now are not even the same kind of bananas our grand- or great grandparents would have (possibly) had access to.
And the bananas are dying!
Big Mike was the banana of choice right up to the 1950s. The “Gros Michel” was the dominant type of banana until a very persistent fungus wiped out massive amounts of Big Mike banana plantations making the fungus-susceptible banana too high a risk to continue exporting. It wasn’t completely wiped out and is actually still grown and sold, although now predominantly to Asian markets. And it can still be affected by the fungus. While the fungus isn’t a health threat towards humans, the banana plants essentially wilt, dry and die. Which is a shame – the “Gros Michel” was apparently a much tastier version of banana – from the standpoint of the era. That is an important distinction, as we are now accustomed to a different type of banana and its taste. From our current banana taste-point, the “Gros Michel” apparently tastes like the artificial banana flavour the food industry uses. So while we think of artificial banana flavour as particularly fake, this is what bananas would have tasted like hadn’t the fungus come along. But Fusarium Oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Panama Disease) did and the pathogen, believed to have first developed in Southeast Asia, was first noticed in 1876 in Australian plantations.
The problem with banana cultivation is they are all clones.
Banana berries (covered previously) are technically clones – they’re not grown from seeds. Continue reading “Big Mike goes bananas or the End of Banana is Near!”
We’re number one!
When it comes to bananas, Canadians have been consistently outeating our southern neighbours. Per capita, Canadians consumed 32.5 lbs of bananas in 2012, while Americans only managed 30.5 lbs in the same year.
In 2014, Canadians upped their game, knocking back 34.4 lbs of delicious bananas. US numbers are currently unavailable. Our monkeys choose to believe its because the US has abandoned all hope of beating Canadians going bananas. Continue reading “Canada outeats US in bananas!”
So where do bananas come from?
Chances are you gave the same answer I gave. From trees of course.
Of course I was wrong. Bananas don’t grow on trees. The plants are actually herbs, or better, herbaceous perennials and the “tree trunk” is actually a stem. And to further add to the confusion, the actual bananas aren’t even fruits. They’re berries.
To quote an excerpt from Greta Lorge: “True berries are simple fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds. Tomatoes fall into this group, as do pomegranates, kiwis and—believe it or not—bananas.”
To drive this point home, strawberries and raspberries – clearly berries, since it says so in the name – are actually fruits since the single flower has multiple ovaries to produce the “berry”. Clearly no longer…
Summarize: Tomatoes are fruits, strawberries and raspberries as well. And bananas are berries. This will make for an interesting smoothie…
Our very own monkeybananas are actually radioactive. I wonder if that needs to be added to the shipping label?
Turns out bananas contain potassium. Potassium-40 to be more exact. Which is apparently a radioactive isotope. Explains the yellow hazmat suits… In fact, there’s even a banana related informal term for expressing ionizing radiation exposure – it’s BED. Which stands for Banana Equivalent Dose.
To quote wikipedia: “the radiation exposure from consuming a banana is approximately 1% of the average daily exposure to radiation, which is 100 banana equivalent doses (BED)… A lethal dose of radiation is approximately 35,000,000 BED…However, the committed dose in the human body due to bananas is not cumulative”
BUT – if you eat a couple million bananas, you might set off some radiation monitors…