August 1, 2017

There are over 40 different types of bananas that grow throughout the world. In the mid 1900’s the most popular banana at that time was called Gros Michael. This was the only type of banana eaten until after World War II. It was grown in Latin America and shipped throughout the world. Then, a fungus known as Panama disease destroyed them. This fungus type of disease, caused the Gros Michael to become extinct.

The banana that replaced it is called Cavendish, which is about 99% of the bananas we see in our markets. It is yellow, sweet, uniformed in size, firm in texture and always seedless. Bananas are a good source of nutrition, convenient, relatively cheap and consistently available. Bananas are the most widely consumed fruits, followed by the apple.

In 1992 a new strain of the fungus that can affect the Cavendish banana was discovered in Asia. Since then, the Panama Race 4 has wiped out plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Twain. It is spreading to Southeast Asia. The fungus has not arrived in the Africa or Latin America.  Some say it is only a matter of time. Researchers and scientists are working on ways to stop the fungus and working with hybrid bananas to create a fungus resistant fruit.

The fungus is transmitted through soil, water, can be spread by people, by dirt on shoes (bananas grow from an underground root structure), tires on trucks, shipping containers, infected equipment, rains, floods, and run-off water. The fungus gets in the roots and will not allow the plant to produce fruit. It dehydrates the plant and the plant cannot absorb water to grow.

As time goes on, all things change, as might the banana in the future, so be open to a new type of banana with a different texture of taste.

If you do not like the thought of it, have an apple.


Renee Kapsner

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