Uh oh. Word on the web is that bananas are in danger! This is very uncool.
The January 10, 2011 issue of The New Yorker reports on the history of a devastating blight, 'Tropical Race Four' that struck the 'Cavendish' variety banana populations in Australia and the Far East in the late eighties and now, scientists fear, may plague today's primary supply in Latin America. From the article abstract:
More than a thousand kinds of banana can be found worldwide, but a variety called Cavendish, which a nineteenth-century British explorer happened upon in a household garden in southern China, represents ninety-nine per cent of the banana export market. The vast majority of banana varieties are not viable for international trade: their bunches are too small, or their skin is too thin, or their pulp is too bland. Although Cavendishes need pampering, they are the only variety that provides farmers with a high yield of palatable fruit that can endure overseas trips without ripening too quickly or bruising too easily. The Cavendish, which is rich in Vitamins B6 and C, has high levels of potassium, magnesium, and fibre; it is also cheap—about sixty cents a pound. In 2008, Americans ate 7.6 billion pounds of Cavendish bananas, virtually all of them imported from Latin America. Your supermarket likely sells many varieties of apples, but when you shop for bananas you usually have one option. The world’s banana plantations are a monoculture of Cavendishes.
Read Mike Peed's full "We Have No Bananas" abstract (and article with subscription) here.