Have you eaten all your bananas?

On my non-working days, I spend my breakfast time catching up with news (okay, I start with sports news before hitting the serious stuff) and I came across an article on the good old BBC website.

The title of the article grabbed me straight away: Bananas on the brink.

Brink of what? Global domination?

Now, I like my bananas. I like them when there is the merest hint of green left on their skin. When they are firm and definitely not when they look like they’ve gone 10 rounds with a prize-fighter. Not battered, bruised or mushy. No thank you!

Over 100 billion are consumed each year so it sounds like the whole world likes a banana. Some like them more than others as the little fella below demonstrates. (Apologies for not keeping my blog a minions free zone. They are everywhere and I buckled.)

minions-love-bananas

Image taken from http://detechter.com/

You don’t know the history on your own doorstep sometimes. As the article starts:

Buy a banana and it will almost certainly be descended from one plant grown at an English stately home. But now we face losing one of the world’s best-loved fruits.

Sitting in picture-perfect Peak District grounds, Chatsworth House seems an unlikely birthplace for today’s global banana industry.

But practically every banana consumed in the western world is directly descended from a plant grown in the Derbyshire estate’s hothouse 180 years ago.

chatsworth

Chatsworth House – image courtesy of http://www.chatsworth.org/

No. This is not a picture of our house!

We don’t live too far away from Chatsworth and I drive through their estate half a dozen times a year. I had no idea the history of my breakfast accompaniment linked so close to home.

Tangent time, if you are ever in England and near Derbyshire then this is a great place to spend the day. Lovely historic house. Very nice gardens and estate to wander around. Once you’ve paid your entrance fee, obviously.

Back to bananas.

In the 1830s, the head gardener, Joseph Paxton, managed to grow a banana plant brought over from Mauritius. Then the missionary, John Williams, exported them over to Samoa. Others introduced the Cavendish banana across the Pacific and Canary Islands. Soon they were everywhere!

Now the Cavendish banana faces a fight against a new strain of Panama disease also known as banana wilt. They wiped out the popular Gros Michel variety in the 50s. Time for the scientists to save the day and our bananas.

You weren’t expecting a history lesson today were you? 🙂

They will not disappear tomorrow, or even next week or month. NO PANIC BUYING!

So, make sure you eat up your bananas while you can. The world would seem a strange place without them!

Do you like your bananas?

 

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About Pete Denton

I'm a writer working my way through the redrafts of a British crime novel. I also write short stories, flash fiction and some screen writing. Check out my blog for more.
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24 Responses to Have you eaten all your bananas?

  1. writinghouse says:

    I read the BBC article too and was intrigued. I am surprised no one has tried to produce a banana from a different stock, but not was much as the fact that pretty much all bananas in the world originate (gentically) from Chatsworth House! If you wrote that as fiction, would your reader believe you?!

    Bananas are cool; banana splits cooler still.

  2. karengadient says:

    We always buy bananas. One of our favorite foods!

  3. noelleg44 says:

    I eat a banana every day! I saw a TV clip on this. The scientists are already working on making several other banana varieties more hardy and prolific. According to the clip, the Cavendish banana is the least tasty of all the varieties. I can vouch for that, because the Bahamas grow tiny bananas that are incredibly tasty – we used to feast on them when we vacationed there.

    • Pete Denton says:

      The Bahamas ones sound lovely. You’d think the most popular of anything would be the better tasting. If the Cavendish is the bland one you have to wonder how it’s survived so long!

  4. I have a I too like them still firm, some people love them when they’ve started to darken and taste a little alcoholic don’t they, but not me! Except, if they do darken and get over-ripe then I’m pleased because it’s an excuse to make banana bread, or banana muffins, which is exactly what I did yesterday.

    When I was younger I worked with bananas, oh yes! I worked for several years for Fyffes (do you know Fyffes bananas? You’ll no doubt have eaten them even if you don’t recognise the name), and yet I had no idea about the Chatsworth House connection.

  5. davidprosser says:

    So the humble banana is from a Ducal Seat. Who knew. I wonder if they get a percentage of every banana sold? They’d be sitting on a mountain of gold if that were the case.To be fair though, that’s quite a debt we owe them.
    Cheers Pete.

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    I would hate to see bananas disappear, although there are some tasty varieties in the tropics that haven’t been commercialized. But I’ve heard the strain that died out in the 1950s was far tastier than what we’re now used to.

  7. I love bananas because they are so versatile. And I’m with you — they must have a tinge of green on them. No brown bananas for this girl! (Although those do make a tasty banana bread!)

  8. Well I never knew that, Pete so thanks for the history lesson. I have a firm breakfast banana most days but ~ at the end of the week, when they’ve ripened too far ~ I bake with them! 🙂

  9. Wow this is an intriguing history lesson. I am a banana fan. Great headline–totally caught my interest. 🙂

  10. cassmob says:

    Who knew?! And who can look at that lake without thinking of Pride and Prejudice….no women anyway 😉 I’ll appreciate my bananas so much more now 🙂

  11. I heard about this! I am not a fan of the smell of bananas, but they are a great fruit! 😉

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