Gone Bananas? Why I Don’t Eat America’s Favorite Fruit

by | Aug 15, 2012

Photo by Crystl

No, I don’t eat bananas. Not really anyway.

It’s not that I don’t like the taste, I actually really enjoy them (particularly with ice cream). Nor do I actively avoid bananas—I’d eat homemade banana cream pie any day of the week, and in Thailand I noshed on the small red finger bananas sold at the local markets. But I don’t buy bananas in the US, and given a choice I’d almost always opt for something else.

While this probably sounds strange to some of you, if you stop and think about the way I live and shop it’s easy to see how this idiosyncratic habit evolved.

I do the majority of my grocery shopping (~80%) at the farmers market, and as you might expect bananas aren’t common in San Francisco. The one or two brick and mortar stores I shop at for the rest of my food here in the city are nothing like your typical supermarkets. Like the farmers market these stores carry local, seasonal food almost exclusively (did I mention I love San Francisco?), and if they carry bananas I’ve never noticed them.

So the main reason I don’t buy bananas is logistical: they don’t exist here.

Honestly for me that’s enough of a reason to focus on the rest of the produce the season has to offer—there’s always more beautiful fruit than I could possibly eat (even in the winter), why do I need bananas too? But when you pause and reflect on why this makes me strange, you start to realize that there are deeper issues with our most popular fruit that make them less than an ideal snack.

The vast majority of bananas sold in the US are grown in Latin Amercia by a handful of countries including Panama, Honduras and Costa Rica. In these places bananas are grown year round, are harvested while unripe, then shipped in special refrigerated compartments until they reach their destination weeks later. The fruit is then exposed to ethylene gas which causes it to ripen and turn their characteristic bright yellow (a different shade than their natural dull yellow when tree-ripened).

Though not genetically modified (yet), all commercial bananas are genetically identical clones grown in monocultures. While this makes the product extremely consistent, it also leaves it vulnerable to disease since cross-breeding cannot confer any protective benefit. Before 1960, the most prevalent commercial banana variety was ‘Gros Michel.’ However, these bananas were wiped out by the fungal Panama disease, forcing farmers to adopt a new variety.

Now all commercial bananas are the Cavendish variety, which was chosen for shelf life and shipping rather than flavor. Cavendish bananas are not immune to infection, however. An extremely virulent strain of Panama disease known as TR4 has threatened Cavendish bananas in Southeast Asia and Australia, and scientists believe TR4 will likely reach Latin American banana plantations soon. There is no variety currently considered a viable replacement for Cavendish, and bananas may be gone from supermarket shelves in our lifetimes. As I hinted above, companies are working to genetically modify the bananas to be resistant to TR4.

Even worse than monoculture ag destroying a commodity that millions of people depend on for their livelihoods, the large banana companies in Latin America (Dole and Chiquita) have a history of mind-boggling corruption. The term “banana republic” describes corrupt countries where the political system favors large agriculture corporations over public welfare. I had trouble finding information on the current state of the banana business and its politics, but there is little indication that things have improved.

But what about nutrition? Am I missing out? Bananas are famously high in potassium, but so are all the green leafy vegetables that make up a huge portion of my diet. Commercial bananas are indeed a good source of several nutrients, however they are also one of the most calorie dense fruits due to their high sugar content. There’s nothing in bananas that you can’t get from other foods, and lower calorie fruits may be a better choice if you eat them often or are watching your weight.

Despite these concerns, there are plenty of valid reasons to continue eating bananas. Just don’t let anyone call you crazy if you choose to skip them.

What are your thoughts on bananas? B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Originally published August 1, 2011.

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107 Responses to “Gone Bananas? Why I Don’t Eat America’s Favorite Fruit”

  1. thomas says:

    “But I don’t buy bananas in the US”

    so what exactly do you buy in january in the north of North Dakota?

    • Alan says:

      Point well-made: not everyone has the luxury of living in southern California.

      • Roxie D says:

        San Francisco is Northern California. I hear what you are saying, but if you don’t have the option of being a localvore ( I do, I live in SoCAL) then don’t, but don’t complain when others have the option to do so and choose to exercise it.

    • That’s a pertinent question, but one that is answered I guess by looking at the environment you’re living in. New Zealand winters are by no means as cold as N. Dakota, but they are wet and windy enough to ensure the only thing that grows successfully are the native (non-edible) plants and mould…

      …unless you have (like I do) an annoying habit of not listening to people who know better! You can find winter hardy varieties of fruit trees, and many such as apples, persimmons and citrus actually taste better when harvested in early winter. Sure you’ll have to shelter them somewhat, perhaps even grown them in tubs or raised beds – but you should be able to grow most anything with a little willpower and know-how.

      Surely even in N. Dakota there’s someone who’s been successful in growing winter fruits? Perhaps check out a historic society and see how the settlers did it? I’ve recently been reading up on urban permaculture, and while it can seem hippy-dippy, it’s a process I’m planning to implement once we move house this spring.

      Good luck!

      • Ryan Jensen says:

        LOL, winter fruits? In North Dakota?

        “North Dakota lies in the northwestern continental interior of the US. Characteristically, summers are hot, winters very cold, and rainfall sparse to moderate, with periods of drought. The average annual temperature is 40°F (4°C), ranging from 7°F (-14°C) in January to 69°F (21°C) in July. The record low temperature, -60°F (-51°C), was set at Parshall on 15 February 1936; the record high, 121°F (49°C), at Steele on 6 July 1936.”

      • Elisabeth says:

        I snickered too … I live in Minnesota, North Dakota’s somewhat more temperate neighbor … people DIE from exposure every winter here. In populated areas. It is well below freezing the majority of the winter, and winter can be a 7 month affair some years. You cannot grow “winter fruit” here … We have to pack away our resin lawn furniture to keep it from cracking for Pete’s sake. We have an abundant summer farmer’s market, but our local produce is not as varied as what is probably available in California. For instance, our access to citrus would be shot, no tropical anything really. Everything we ate for more than 4 months out of the year would have to be canned or otherwise preserved … no thank you. I’ll take my trucked in food from the supermarket … Oh, and bananas are an excellent source of potassium for seniors who cannot handle the fiber in massive loads of green veggies.

      • Darya Pino says:

        Nothing wrong with that! Props to you for braving the cold. Potatoes have a great deal of potassium as well.

    • Chris says:

      Very well made point Thomas. It’s easy to make these great lifestyle choices when you’ve basically got every other single piece of produce at your fingertips year round. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, so I guess according to her I should eat corn (that’s grown for cattle feed) and soybeans for the rest of my life.

      Some ideas that are more realistic for the rest of the country would be appreciated. No bananas is where the cultural divide starts. It’s why we can’t take you seriously.

      I know to you everyone who doesn’t live within 10 minutes of the ocean are inbred hillbillies, but I promise that I’ve got running water.

      • Darya Pino says:

        Hey Chris,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts, but I think you misunderstood the point of this post. I’m not a militant locavore, and I want everyone to eat as well as possible within their means. Obviously not everyone lives in California, and I know many people don’t have access to or can’t afford local, seasonal food. I’m completely aware that my own eating habits reflect a luxury that not everyone has, and I don’t judge anyone who chooses to eat bananas (or anything else). Bananas are cheap and damn tasty, and as I say at the bottom of the post there are many good reasons to keep eating them.

        In this case I was just answering a question that I get frequently, which is what do I think about bananas. I’ve said in the past that I don’t buy them (I do eat them now and then), and several folks have asked for an explanation. This is it, and as I emphasize at the beginning of the article, it’s mostly a choice of convenience for me. The other issues are things I think about as well, and I think people should be aware of, but that doesn’t mean you should limit your food choices based on arbitrary ideologies. I think you should eat the best food you can get your hands on, wherever it comes from.

      • Chris says:

        Darya, yes that makes sense. I woke up this morning and realized what I typed seemed a little….harsh. I do like a banana every so often.

      • Darya Pino says:

        Cool, I appreciate that. I really do go out of my way here to help show people that good food is out there if you look for it and not just an elitist luxury. I was really touched by a recent farmers market guest post from Detroit, which is often branded as one of the most barren cities in the US.

        I know I’m lucky to live in SF, but I’ve also been a broke-ass college student my whole life (making even less now as a writer) and the challenge of eating well in difficult circumstances is very real to me and something I do my best to help people overcome.

    • Tony says:

      Hi I would like to say that if you look at it the way your talking. Then you should know that all food has not normal in it unless you grow it cuz I could be local farmer and tell whatever you want to hear to make you feel about eating it.

    • Nathan Carlos Rupley says:

      What did Native Americans eat in North Dakota in winter?

      Obviously in terms of fruit they mostly ate dried fruit, but there are some wild fruits that hang on the tree all winter long. Not sure what all you have in ND but here in PA (yes much warmer) We have hackberry, dwarf hackberry, barberry, rosehips, nanny berries, and hawthorn that tend to be available for all or most of the winter.

      Other than that we have several types of mushrooms that grow on logs in the winter as well as pine needles for tea. Organ meats from wild or grass feed animals are also very nutrient dense.

      If all of that is too scary for you, just learn how to dry or ferment some of the local fruits.

  2. Amy says:

    Have you read “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World” – I thought it was a very interesting history of something we seem to take for granted.

  3. Great article which taught me a lot.

    One comment I’d offer is that I do eat organic bananas when they are available on the green side to try to increase my intake of indigestible, fermentable starches. Lower glycemic index and some satiety effects overnight.

  4. Brad Diamond says:

    Dayra,
    Do you know if Organic Bananas are exposed to ethylene gas? The intraweb was not so helpfull answering this question. Previously i was just eating Organic Bananas b/c it doesn’t posion the farm workers as does regular banana farming.

    • Darya Pino says:

      They have to be, otherwise they wouldn’t be yellow. But ethylene doesn’t poison the workers, they don’t use it until it reaches the States.

      • Brad Diamond says:

        intresting…..

        the posion was from the pesticides that they are exposed to during the farming practice, along the lines of the corruption you were talking about in your article

        http://www.plu.edu/~bananas/environmental/home.html

        THANKS

      • Chris M. says:

        Ethylene is a naturally occurring plant hormone that has to do with the ripening process of virtually all fruit. Put some green bananas in a paper bag and fold the top closed and they will ripen faster than if left in the air because the ethylene level will be more concentrated. Yes commercially they may expose early picked un-ripe fruit to an artificial source to get it ready for the store shelf, but I don’t think it is something to be concerned about.

        Bananas do turn yellow on the tree, there is a picture about 1/4-1/3 of the way down the page at: http://www.nikdaum.com/news/category/thailand/page/22

      • Fact Checker says:

        The store where I buy organic bananas sells them green.
        They are not yellow until I have had them at home for a about a week.
        It seems as if you are just making things up.

      • Dani says:

        Hey, Chris M., thanks for the ethylene explanation. However, I don’t think Darya said that “bananas don’t turn yellow on the tree”. She said they do; just not they same shade of yellow.

      • Ken says:

        I am really curious what “local” fruits you eat all year round. Even in California there is a limited growing season. Just because you find something in a local market,does not mean it was grown locally.

        Regarding ethylene. The fruits are shipped GREEN, they yellow naturally. Ethylene gas is given off by all fruits as they naturally ripen.

        Now on the other hand, most super market tomatoes are gassed to make them turn red.

      • Food Scientist says:

        Bananas produce their own ethylene. They will fully ripen of their own accord whether picked green or left on the banana palm.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Yeah, the pesticides are def bad. Just wanted to clarify that it wasn’t the ethylene. Bananas produce that naturally.

  5. Enjoyed this discussion. I too do the vast majority of my shopping at our Greenmarket. I’m not wild about bananas (most of them taste kind of awful, especially organic in my opinion), but my kids and husband LOVE them so we buy from time to time.

  6. jess says:

    i loved the info you presented here .. thank you..
    i never was a banana girl myself and was exclusively eating them to get more potassium..and to thicken the smoothie shakes i enjoy so much.

  7. Michael says:

    Bananas disappearing from the American marketplace? I wonder what the 30BAD crowd will do? :-)

  8. Andrew says:

    Bananas do turn yellow when tree ripened.

    We cut the bunch off the tree when the first ones turn yellow. The remainder of the bunch turn yellow after a few days in the shed. No gas required. Wherever did get the idea that they do not turn yellow on their own?

    • Darya Pino says:

      I read that they turn a little yellow but still have a green tint. Not the same color as supermarket yellow. Were yours that canary color?

      • Lici says:

        Nice post! My island grows bananas, but I don’t fancy the larger ones, which may very well be Cavendish. I was trying to find the common name for the type that grows in my garden. Here in the Caribbean, some people call this variety of banana a “fig” (!!). It’s not a fig… just one of those borrowed names I guess. I think they could be manzano bananas.
        Mine are really tiny and chubby (cute! hehe), have very thin skin (sometimes it splits), always fall off the bunch before they’re completely ripe and I usually describe their taste as tangy-sweet-starchy. But that’s not entirely right, as I tend to eat them jussst before they’re fully ripe (so delicious). :)

        I hope you do find some good home-grown bananas if you like them!

    • Grok says:

      I was going to say the same thing. The Cavendish might need to be gassed since they’re SOOO green when picked, but yellow bananas are the result of tree ripening as well. I have several friends who grow them, and I have eaten them tree ripened. They aren’t yellow on plants very often, because animals (birds in particular) have a keen eye for that tasty yellow and the bunch needs to be cut down when the first ones start to change. Not much different than any other tree ripened fruit.

      Also, not all commercial bananas are Cavendish. It’s generally quite easy to find Filipino reds and minis (plantains etc.. too) in Kroger stores around the states. There are alternatives to the endangered Cavendish, and most of them are tastier to boot.

      I’m not saying the unethical treatment of the workers in the banana republic is at all right, but without the bananas, they would not even be working. It is the economy there.

      As Scott notes below, I’ve also heard of bananas being grown in San Fran. I know nothing about the area, so I can’t say where. I recall the ones I heard about being grown were done privately. It is being done somewhere around there. Apple-Bananas are the bees knees! I eat tons of them. As a matter of fact, just ate like 20 as a part of my dinner ;)

      If you have access to tasty local fruits, who wouldn’t choose those first? ;)

      Ethylene gas… lots of things are ripened with ethylene gas. Supermarket tomatoes being a leader in the produce section. If you eat a tomato from the supermarket, you can almost guarantee it was gassed. As noted, ethylene is naturally produced by the plants themselves. Most the bananas in the markets I went to in the lower 48 sold the bananas green as leaves. I had to leave the boxed & wrapped cases in my warm car for days to turn them yellow.

    • Karen B. says:

      I wondered why she wrote that they didn’t turn yellow naturally too. We had neighbors who grew bananas in Tucson, AZ and they turned yellow just like in the store.
      I don’t eat store bananas any more because they don’t seem to have as much flavor as they used to and have a real starchy aftertaste that I don’t like.

  9. Ina says:

    Very interesting. I had bananas when I went home to the Philippines, and I was surprised by how much more flavorful they were. Now I know why.

  10. Jan says:

    Every day, sometime during the day, I eat: Bowl of steel cut oats with cinnamon, nutmeg & 1 whole sliced banana along with 1 slice whole wheat bread and peanut butter. It just wouldn’t be the same meal without that banana!

  11. ArtChemist says:

    Great article. I avoid bananas too. For me they are super-inflammatory.

  12. Mike says:

    Just because monoculture crops can die off easily is not a reason why I would stop consuming bananas. I see why you mention ethically you stopped eating Bananas–and i’m sure a lot of other fruit as well. However, personally I do not care how they are grown. The fact of the matter is they are already grown and sold. If I buy some bananas from Stop and Shop am I going to die, no. Will a little baby be left without food, maybe after Stop and Shop bought the batch. The fact of the matter is that these “corporate giants” are so prevalent in which a large majority of us (people in states that aren’t as hippie as California) need to buy these types of fruits.

    Heck, I rather have you eat fruit than McDonalds… Regardless of where it came from.

    If someone is going to stop eating food purely of ethical nature, I think it’s important to keep these points in mind especially when in the public eye.

  13. Kim W says:

    I never cared for bananas that much. I’ve read that if you are allergic to ragweed to avoid bananas – perhaps my body knew before I did why I shouldn’t eat them!

  14. RJ says:

    This is exactly how I ended up not eating many bananas- I started eating local (blessed to also live in California- not sure I could do this as totally elsewhere), and darn if no banana are grown here either. I had only just noticed this myself- so fun to know I am not the only one!

  15. I don’t really like bananas (I think they taste weird and I hate the mushy texture), but my husband does. So we buy bananas. I agree there are some valid points with avoiding industrial agriculture, but bananas aren’t on my list of things I avoid for ethical reasons. I only eat meat from local farmers and I will only buy fair trade, shade grown coffee, which pretty much depletes my “ethical spending” budget. Also, as someone else pointed out, eating local is a great idea, but there’s no way I could make myself subsist on root vegetables and meat all winter…and that’s what you get when you live in the North.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Good points. I don’t think anyone could eat locavore 100% of the time. I do try to avoid produce from other hemispheres when possible, but I’d never turn down the banana cream pie from Tartine Bakery :)

  16. Jason says:

    I eat bananas all the time and am very selective. I buy the smallest greenest ones in the heap and let the natural ethylene develop to ripen on the counter top. The Dole organic ones from Peru are my first choice if available. Perhaps sustainable farming may benefit from modern irrigation techniques as an alternative to GMO. Here’s the story, I hope its true. http://www.doleorganic.com/countries/peru.html

  17. Adam says:

    I love bananas – real fresh bananas. I’ll eat the ones from the store, but they are large and flavorless compared to the small sweet ones I got as a kid living in Brazil. Que Saudades!

  18. Scott says:

    There is a Family banana grower near the Bay Area, just near Manteca. They grow two varieties of small bananas, the Apple banana and the Champagne banana. I don’t know where they distribute, but they do show up at the Palo Alto (Cal. Av.) and Mtn. View farmer’s markets.

    • Darya Pino says:

      Well that’s awesome news! I’d love to try them. Will keep my eyes open, thanks!

      • April says:

        I really miss fresh, locally grown apple bananas in Hawaii (I live in Florida now). If someone in California is growing them, check it out as those tasty little fruits are a must-try. Jealous!

  19. tanna says:

    They are super easy to eat before a run real early in the morning without upsetting my tummy during run.

  20. Kelly says:

    It is incorrect that Cavendish Bananas have been wiped out in Australia by a virus. 85% of bananas grown in Australia are Cavendish with the rest being Lady Fingers.

    Australian Quarantine prevents Bananas from being imported into Australia. This is to prevent the introduction of this virus which would wipe out our banana industry.
    http://www.australianbananas.com.au/public/media/downloads/media_kit.pdf

  21. Frome says:

    I was hoping you’d talk about that special starch in green bananas since it seems to be a new fad diet thing.

  22. Thank you! Such helpful info — I don’t know of one person that doesn’t eat bananas! We actually grow our own bananas in our backyard (live in the south) but when I have bought them, bought organic. Now that I’ve read your post, we’ll be rethinking purchasing those too!

  23. Allie says:

    I don’t eat bananas either, although I do love baked goods with banana in them.

    Also, I wanted to share this article from NIH I just found this morning. Lately people have been so apt to say “chocolate is good for you!” because they want to believe it, but this article highlights that research and points out why you can’t just say chocolate is ‘good for you.’ I really enjoyed it and it instantly made me think of your site.

    http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Aug2011/Feature1

  24. yup says:

    I’ve been keeping a food journal for 6 months and am frustrated at how hard it is to get my RDA of potassium. I’m now vegan before 6pm, eat mostly foods w/o added salt or sugar (have lost 26 lbs!), but still only eat about 2500 mg daily. I’d love your suggestions for getting more potassium without bananas!

    • Karen B. says:

      A baked potato with the skin should have more potassium than a banana. Tomato juice, V8 juice, apricots, figs all have more potassium than a banana.

  25. I stopped buying bananas when I stopped shopping at Safeway. I buy most of my produce at farmers’ markets or get them delivered in my CSA share. I too am blessed to live in the Bay Area so I don’t miss them at all.

    I am the only one who really likes bananas in my family so no outcry here. The only exception was when my daughter had a bad case of the runs and we made her eat bananas for two weeks. I doubt if she will ever touch a banana again.

    Thanks for the article. Good information. They use ethylene to color lemons and oranges as well.

  26. Rachel says:

    Wow! I work in a natural foods store in the produce department, and we just had our quarterly department meeting, where we discussed the recent change in price of our bananas (99 cents to $1.29 per pound). It’s the number one bought item in our store, so obviously customers were a little disappointed. But we just talked about this issue in our meeting, and I had no idea all of this was going on until then! I hope more people find out about this.

  27. GrowingRaw says:

    Bananas in Australia have been in short supply and therefore much more expensive due to the heavy cyclone season. Lots of crops were wiped out and are only just starting to come back on the market. Bananas have been $14/kg in the local supermarkets for months.

    Previously I’ve relied on bananas as a consistent ingredient in my green smoothies. Once I gave up on the supply kicking back in and started experimenting I found that apples and berries make a good combination with greens. There’s a good supply of persimmons locally and I love the flavour of those in green smoothies too – just have to ignore the slight sliminess.

  28. Greg says:

    This is an interesting post, and as I’m not much of a banana person either, it ties in with a subject I was reading about just a few weeks ago. The native US cousin to the banana is called the Asimina, or goes by the common name of pawpaw fruit. Tastes something like a cross between a banana and papaya. If you can get it, its an interesting fruit.

  29. Kelcee says:

    While I understand where you’re coming from, I can’t give up my bananas. I like them too much, and I am sure me eating a banana will not harm anyone.

  30. Well I am from the North Dakota prairie and I can tell you if I had to buy 80% of my food from a farmers market we would starve. You are very fortunate to have such great access in California to so many local options from cheese to strawberries. My great -great grandma was a pioneer in a sod house on the prairie. She survived with her seven kids but I never want to go back to what she through. I will buy what is available for fresh fruits and veggies in our one and only grocery store. Local is relative. I always buy American produce first but when there is something NOT grown in the USA I do buy that too. There are laborers growing bananas that are much worse off than we are on our farm. Bananas are healthy and we definitely need them in the dead of winter on the prairie!

  31. Georges says:

    In Brazil, yes, we have bananas today and all over the year too. All without pesticides, and not only cavendish but several others. In local market you can choose among 4 or 5 commercial types. However if you go to country side you can buy other not so common.

  32. Farzin says:

    Really cool article you come off as someone who knows their stuff but your last sentence pretty much seals the deal. Though a lot of people won’t even read to the end and make an assumption about you :/

  33. xpto says:

    Well, if you dont like south american bananas, eat the healthier (raised in plain air) bananas of Madeira (Portugal)

    They don’t look as “plastic” as chiquita and they don’t feel like “gun” when you eat them. But you know what? They are sweeter ;)

    Here is a photo for you all to see, that there are good and healthy bananas:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2571/3910220510_45a8c6779f.jpg

  34. mote says:

    Sigh. I am allergic to peaches, pears, plums, apples, apricots, nectarines and cherries. Bananas are one of the few fruits I enjoy and can eat that is not a citrus fruit. So I will continue to do so and hope that giant ag doesn’t mess this up for me – I have enough problems as it is.

  35. Ryan T. says:

    I’m a noob when it comes to organic food. But what about Banana’s sold in Whole Foods? I’ve always thought they were the epitome of organic grown food. I know they sell conventional grown products. But I guess I need to research/investigate on true organically grown food.

  36. Helmut says:

    Hello, I’m from Honduras, an old banana republic. when ripen the fruit releases ethylene, so the bananas turn yellow naturally. In addition, I’m sure that the bananas that you receive are the best, because here we eat that do not pass the standards.
    But now we can say that Honduras became a coffee republic.
    the variety of foods is the best.

    • Daniel says:

      Hi, I am also from Honduras. Though I cannot refute your comment on bananas’ natura ethylene gas production for I don’t know about that, I have to disagree and say that bananas exported are bland, and the varieties of bananas we have the luxury to eat are not only naturally ripened but much tastier varieties in themselves (dátiles, guineos o minimos indios, butucos, just to name a few). Not everything that passes a Dole or Chiquita standard is the best of its variety; it’s just a standard for the company’s interest of export.

  37. Toady says:

    Is this part of your jihad against science?

  38. Andrew says:

    What are the Bananas in Australia ,Who Knows?

    • Grok says:

      I’ve heard Cavis and Lady Fingers. Be being that they can grow there, I’m sure other varieties are grown non-commercial.

    • Michael says:

      Cavendish bananas and Lady Fingers are the most commonly grown in Australia. They have NOT been wiped out by disease as the writer claims – she is wrong! If she is so easily wrong about such a simple thing like this, what else is she so easily wrong about? It would come as quite a surprise to the Australian banana growers to find out apparently the crops they are harvesting do not exist and have actually all been wiped out due to disease.

      Sure, they have been in Short supply here. Two cyclones (hurricanes) in the main growing area only a few years apart has devastated the growing. But they are Still available, just Much more pricey.

      Banana growing is licensed in Australia so the Dept of Primary Industries can make sure no diseases can catch a hold.

      • Darya Pino says:

        You’re right, my phrasing wasn’t exactly accurate. The devastation has been much worse in Indonesia and quarantine measures helped Australia maintain a good portion of their crops. I changed my wording from “wiped out” to “threatened.”

      • William L says:

        The wonderful thing about science and scientists is that they loved being proved wrong, if the scientific evidence is there to back it up. I certainly didn’t realize that you guys still bothered to grow bananas, and we’re neighbors; we’ve been getting bananas from Fiji at $1.89kg for ages.

        Oh, btw your Dept. of Primary Industries still won’t allow apples from New Zealand in either, ostensibly due to a disease which does not exist (read: price protection/monopoly for it’s internal industries) so you have that wonderfully ‘informed’ Dept. to thank for that, along with the ridiculous price of bananas, haha!

        People are allowed to be wrong, they are welcome to their opinion, and if you have relevant up-to-date information to the contrary, then please share it! But lambasting someone because they’re misinformed is kind of douchy, and weakens your argument.

      • Michael says:

        Oranges and their skins, products with them in, etc., are NOT allowed into Australia either – unless the source is verified as Blight Free. In an effort to keep Blight out, even though it is already here, although being fought.

        As for “People are allowed to be wrong, they are welcome to their opinion, and if you have relevant up-to-date information to the contrary, then please share it! But lambasting someone because they’re misinformed is kind of douchy, and weakens your argument.” I agree, people are allowed to be wrong. And they certainly are welcome to share Opinions. However, writing that the Australian banana industry was wiped out due to disease is not an opinion it is an out and out a flase fact – a total untruth that could Easily have been double checked before writing. And what I said stands, if a person is so wrong about one thing it brings into question the other things they wrote. It is not My arguement that is brought into question or weakened by revealing untruths passed off as truths but the author’s writing. Regardless if it is Darya or a prize winning jounro or whomever.

        Unless those who pass on info are held accountable, in whatever fashion that takes, for errors in their writing, then we are accepting shoddy and wrong information. Thankfully, Darya has the maturity to accept an error and make changes as necessary. But defending the error, or “having a go” at those who point out such errors, is asking for the error-filled misinformation to persist. And as that becomes the norm the high standard of Fact Checking expected of the writer falls by the wayside.

        I am certain the bureaucrats in the DPI have under the table deals going. I have no proof, this is opinion only. But whether they ban or allow apples from NZ is irrelevant to the topic at hand – that bananas are very much still grown in this country and have not actually been wiped out.

        My Opinion is, if you cannot get whatever it is you want to eat from your local market, then by all means buy the stuff from outside the local area – be that bananas or not. Feeding your belly and keeping alive is far more important than whether the local co-op has a certain food stuff. Which, like the big companies, they will also only grow for profitable reasons within their available land (what makes them the most $ per amount of land) and permitted foods by the relevant authorities for whatever reason. And noone should be made to feel guilty for choosing to feed a child a banana as a snack just cause they have to buy one produced out of town or at the supermarket. Fruit from Almost any source is better than depriving yourself because my local organic shop selling overpriced food Under Agreement doesn’t stock it – or farmer’s markets which may not be able to be attended due to other living commitments, or which may just sell the same stuff as any local fruit/veg store by passing it off as Farmer’s Market produce.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I live in the country in GA so I am lucky enough to get plenty of veggies from friend’s gardens. We will also start our own garden in the spring but no one grows fruit around here exept the occassional plum tree. Also my 4 yr old son is extremely picky and one of the only fruits I can get him to eat is bananas. He has started eating apples and grape occassionaly though. I don’t eat many bananas but I still do buy them for my son and the children I keep at home. I run my own day care center.

  40. Chris says:

    We have Banana Apples that are locally grown here in Hawaii. They are a little bit tart and much much smaller then your normal grocery store banana. I am unsure of the nutritional content and sugar content though.

  41. Mirra says:

    I am in Toronto, Ontario in Canada. I eat organic bananas from my local health food supermarket. They arrive green and slowly ripen. I don’t think they use the gas you mentioned. Even the ones in the organic section of the regular supermarket arrive green. The regular ones in the non-organic produce section are yellow.

    Mirra

  42. Loved it!

    Thanks,

    Etienne

  43. Sophie says:

    I don’t know where you got your information about bananas but I grew up in Panama, with huge banana, mangoes, avocados, pineapples, lemon trees, orange trees, tomatoes and all sorts of peppers in my backyard.
    Bananas are yellow when ripe, unless you are talking about the ones that were left in the bunch – those are yellow with brown specks.

    Unless you have grown the fruit or visited the places where it’s grown stop repeating the bit of nonsense that you have read.

  44. Dee says:

    This is the second time I’ve heard that bananas are calorie dense (carbs) so those who want to loose weight must stay away . Actually (paradoxically), ripe bananas are probably my least favourite fruit, but green young banana cooked as a vegetable is one of my favourite in meals.

    • Grok says:

      So a ripe banana is too dense in calories and carbs, but a unripe banana’s heated caramelized starch and probably fried in a fat is somehow less dense in calories and carbs?

      Bananas don’t make people fat. Taking in more energy than you use makes you fat.

      • Dee says:

        Grok, Well I’m not sure about the difference in composition… But green bananas I boil in water and are not sweet at all… Like boil potato, but less boring

      • Grok says:

        Gotcha. That’s good. I’ve tried it a few times recently with Dippig bananas. Whenever you cook the starch it’s going to make it more easily digestible. I’d imagine the end result is fairly similar to a ripe one calorically but favoring more glucose.

        Dont believe bananas make you fat nonsense though. If you want to see how fat bananas make people, look no further than raw vegans. Humans have been eating raw and cooked bananas since the dawn of time.

        Best wishes.

    • Dee says:

      Darya, I recently read that the resistant starch found in bananas, especially green ones, may be good for you – a similiar effect to fibre, in gems of digestion and calories. Is there any truth to this?

      … Yes I still skip ripe bananas and love green unripe ones….

  45. number8gurl says:

    Hi, I found this article by googling “what is america’s favorite fruit?” Why did I google this you ask? Because I was watching a cooking show last night and was astounded to hear the cook (an American woman) say that she doesn’t like bananas (she was preparing some banana boats for her children to roast on a campfire).

    I’ve always loved bananas and eaten them my entire life so this really bowled me over. I just assumed that everyone loved them. Well I guess I was right about them being America’s favorite fruit but I see from your article and the television show that there are people who just plain don’t like them and people, as in your case, who can’t easily find them to purchase (I live in the Southeastern US and I could go in any one of several grocery stores in my area on the deadest, coldest day of January and find bananas to purchase…..just saying).

    But I have to disagree with you about the ripened color of bananas not being yellow and also that ALL bananas are grown in other countries. I lived in South Florida for a year and a half and the house we moved into had a thriving stand of banana trees in the back yard. The bananas they produced were smaller than the grocery store variety but otherwise just as tasty and just as yellow ripened on the tree. We never had to buy bananas the whole time we lived there and I made quite a few banana puddings out of them too :)

  46. mike says:

    This is the lamest article I have ever read. If this is what they worry about over in San Francisco, it’s no wonder California is broke.

  47. carolee1945 says:

    I found this piece fascinating!!! I do not like bananas that much, do not hate them, but think I am supposed to eat them for their potassium. I buy them out of a “supposed to” feeling and then watch them turn black. You have completely expunged (is that the correct word?) all guilt I have for not eating bananas. I live in San Francisco, too. I get a CSA box. I live near tons of farmers markets, and it never occurred to me why “they have no bananas”. I have not heard the term “banana republic” in a long time, and it is a great phrase, so thanks for your blog!!! This is just a fun piece, why do some of the other readers take it so seriously???

    • Ken Sturmer says:

      The reason they are not found at your “local” farmers market is because they are not local. They take a tropical climate to grow. Farmers markets are a great thing, but if we all tried to eat just local, we would have a very short supply of fruits and vegetables. Apples for instance cannot grow in a place like Florida where I live. —- and by the way if you eat Tangelos, Pink Grapefruit, Golden Delicious Apples, Navel Oranges you are eating fruits that were the product of the manipulation of man. Any modern apple for that matter is the result of grafting and hybridization. If you saw an apple from the 1600’s you would probably not want to eat it. They were dry and mostly tasteless!
      Getting back on track. Depending on where you live, there is a limited amount of “local” produce. Not everyone lives in California. They either live in a cold climate, or they live in a tropical climate. In each of those areas, only certain crops can be grown. Even Washington Apples, are only grown on the East side of the Cascades. The growing season is too short, West of the mountains for them to be grown commercially.

  48. Laudalino says:

    Perhaps Spike Jones said it best….

  49. Cathy says:

    Thanks carolee, agreed with nice and interesting read, why so serious for goodness sake? Makes me bananas!

  50. Rick says:

    That is why I grow my own bananas. these are 100% natural, no chemicals, no nothing; just nature. i never liked the way the bananas looked at the market.

  51. Son N. says:

    I really like this blog and I read it from time to time. However, this article is written with so many inaccurate data that I’m actually a little bit shocked. Are you just writing because you need to write something? You do remember that you’re of a scientist right?

  52. John Simms says:

    I eat organic bananas. I love ‘em. I hope they don’t disappear. I figure buying bananas may show people down south that growing and selling legitimate food is better than growing and selling illegal drugs.

  53. Jim says:

    The higher calorie count can be helpful if a person is on a raw vegan diet looking for calories I would imagine. I really like bananas but I agree that local is nice, and winter can be an issue.

  54. Lucy says:

    Yummmy article! :-) Does anyone know if it is safe(even relatively)to eat the peel of organic bananas? I enjoy including the peel (left on when slicing) in my baby-banana snacks.

  55. Food Scientist says:

    This is a half-baked anti-capitalist hippy diatribe mixed with a very large load of pseudoscience. Virtually every claim made is incorrect.

  56. walkerny says:

    How many of these tiresome feel-good “buy local and save the environment” advocates drive a car made in Korea, Japan, Germany or Sweden. A car from Detroit, Tennessee or Ohio has a much smaller ‘carbon footprint’ to ship it. How many have Dutch, German, Belgian or Mexican beers, Aussie or French wine, or FIJI, Italian or French water in the fridge. What’s the carbon footprint to ship those over domestically available products? Hypocritical (yet oh so fashionable)Nonsense.

  57. John says:

    People please understand organic farming is not a valid large scale course for farming practices for the modern age. These “vilified” pesticides/chemicals have reduce the land required for farming, have increased the amount produced, and has made otherwise expensive foods cheep. “Organic” food is simply a mental luxury bought and sold to the “socially” conscious person to project their status. It is a business plan and you have fallen for it.

  58. walkerny says:

    Sorry John, you are running up against feel good, emotions based, pseudo science. How can you win? these same people have “buy local” on the bumper of their Kia. They feel like they are “doing something” for the environment. The same idiots think vaccinations cause any number of illnesses, based on what some dippy celebrity says. They decry fracking yet can’t even give a basic technical explanation of how it is done. First world idiots.

  59. walkerny says:

    WEBMD also does a good job debunking all the “cleansing” and detox diets out there. Not that eating healthy and more natural is bad, it is the best for you, but if you do so, your liver & kidney will “detox” just fine, without gimmicks.

  60. Rick says:

    I just recently read the history about Bananas and realized they went extinct in the early 60’s. Living in the 60’s as a child I did not know this and I also read that all Bananas are GMO because they all became extinct. I totally understand your thoughts and am very concerned about the Bananas that we are eating and what they are using to protect them from pests and disease!!! I also understand that people need to make a living and also read that people working in Banana plants are prone to life threatening diseases!! These are huge concerns to me and want to know if you have read or understand these issues?

    Thanks for your time,
    Rick

    • Ken Sturmer says:

      I don’t know where you read this, but you are quite mistaken. All bananas did not become extinct in the sixties. There are many, many varieties of Banana. The fact is the Banana that was popular up until that time, did become extinct due to a blight. That was when the Cavendish the Banana we eat today was introduced.

      To those who are afraid that Bananas are GMO’s are also totally wrong. Evidently some are confused by the term “clone”. ALL Bananas are clones! They always have been! That is how they reproduce. The plant sends out pups, which grow into new Banana plants, the old plant dies every year. Many plants are clones. Your pineapple, in the Bromeliad family does the same thing. All Bromeliads send out pups, and then die. There are many other plants that do this. Somebody really needs to learn Horticulture, and understand how many fruits and vegetables are grown. Yes there are GMO plants out there, but they are a recent thing. All corn grown in the US today is GMO. There are Tomatoes that are very popular, and also GMO. The Bananas you buy in the grocery, unfortunately ARE NOT! You are welcome to still not eat them. But I would not eat anything in that case, as cloning, hybridization, grafting have given us most of our known vegetables and fruits. Instead of reading false information, get out there and do some real research. You might find it interesting! But then you have to have a brain, and some new age foodies simply do not.

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