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Is the Banana Slipping Away?
Townhall.com ^ | March 16, 2014 | Steve Chapman

Posted on 03/16/2014 8:50:50 AM PDT by Kaslin

Some people lie awake nights worrying about terrorist attacks, giant asteroids crashing into the Earth or war with Russia. I can slumber peacefully through those perils. What causes me to wake up screaming is the banana blight.

To say I'm favorably inclined toward bananas is like saying Miley Cyrus has overcome her inhibitions. I have an unbroken record of eating two bananas a day that stretches back to the Johnson administration.

Two is the bare minimum I regard as necessary to sustain life. I'm not ashamed to say there are days when I've gone through five. After that I stop keeping track, on the belief that it would be unseemly, like Bill Gates counting his money.

My wife doubts that I evolved from monkeys, not because she questions Darwin's theory but because she sees no evidence I've transcended the monkey stage. If you encounter me and wonder, "Is that a banana in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?" it's probably a banana in my pocket.

One of my proudest moments as a father was when, in the Pinewood Derby, my daughter entered a car made to look exactly like a banana. Never mind who gave her the idea.

I voted for Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas when he ran for president in 1992, because I was with him when he was campaigning in New Hampshire and commended a young man who was eating a banana: "Bananas have a lot of potassium." You have to admire a politician willing to stand up to the powerful New England cranberry interests.

But he may have surmised that you can't go wrong extolling the banana. Chiquita says it's the world's most popular fruit, with the average American consuming 27 pounds' worth every year. No wonder: It's a model of perfection, with a sleek shape, a happy color, a mildly sweet flavor, many nutrients and a protective skin that signals when texture and taste are at their peak.

I don't know what I'll die of. But it won't be potassium deficiency. I could probably sign up to be a potassium donor.

You laugh, but that role could be important given the dread developments in the banana fields. "The Cavendish banana -- the vitamin-packed yellow beauty found in most of the Western world -- could be going the way of the dodo," reported MSN News last year.

This variety, which accounts for 95 percent of the bananas sold in the United States and Europe, is under siege by a disease that wiped out what was once the most popular banana, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s. On top of that, the Cavendish faces another virulent disease, plus a devastating fungus that has become resistant to fungicides.

As yet, these enemies have not gained a foothold in Central and South America, the blessed source of most of the bananas we eat. But plant pathologist Gert Kema of Wageningen University in the Netherlands told The Economist magazine that "it's not a question of whether it will occur there. It's a question of when."

We're at that stage of the horror movie when the teenagers in the remote house are partying, unaware of the killer ascending the basement stairs. You may want to cover your eyes.

Scientists are trying to find a version that is not only immune to these scourges, but durable and tasty like the Cavendish. Surely that can't be hard, since there are some 1,000 kinds cultivated around the globe.

Right -- and if the Taj Mahal collapses, India has other sights to see. "Consumers might turn their noses up at pungent varieties," notes The Economist. "Thin-skinned ones would not survive weeks in a ship's hold."

Some kinds have a tart flavor, some have a dry texture and some turn black when ripe. Anything different from perfection is imperfect.

Shaken by the possibilities, I contacted Wal-Mart, which is the world's biggest retailer and which sells more bananas than any other product, to find out whether it has a contingency plan for a banana famine. I was informed that the company has nothing to say on the topic.

Red alert: If this gigantic purveyor refuses to disclose how it will satisfy consumer demand for its most popular item, maybe it actually won't. And maybe no one else will either.

So the bananas we all know and love could someday vanish from stores. If you want to eat the last one, go right ahead. Right after you pry it from my cold, dead hands.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: banana; bananablight; bananas; cavendish; consumers; fruitstand; grosmichel; walmart

1 posted on 03/16/2014 8:50:50 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
I see an opportunity for genetic manipulation in the banana's future.
2 posted on 03/16/2014 8:53:01 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Kaslin

I like bananas but I’m not freakish about it.


3 posted on 03/16/2014 8:55:27 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (God is not the author of confusion. 1 Cor 13: 33)
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To: Kaslin; mikrofon; Charles Henrickson
This variety, which accounts for 95 percent of the bananas sold in the United States and Europe, is under siege by a disease that wiped out what was once the most popular banana, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s. On top of that, the Cavendish faces another virulent disease, plus a devastating fungus that has become resistant to fungicides.

Bananas in Traumas.

4 posted on 03/16/2014 8:55:49 AM PDT by martin_fierro (Vex a-peel)
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To: Kaslin

I like bananas, especially cut up in some yogurt, but at 69 cents/pound? It wasn’t that long ago they were 39 cents/pound.


5 posted on 03/16/2014 8:56:02 AM PDT by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: Kaslin
wiped out what was once the most popular banana, the Gros Michel, in the 1950s

I've heard that the Gros Michel tasted better than the Cavendish.

6 posted on 03/16/2014 8:56:16 AM PDT by MUDDOG
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To: Kaslin

Banana Man to the rescue!
7 posted on 03/16/2014 9:00:22 AM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (Pubbies = national collectivists; Dems = international collectivists; We need a second party!)
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To: Kaslin
I voted for Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas when he ran for president in 1992.

He went bananas.

8 posted on 03/16/2014 9:02:12 AM PDT by smoothsailing
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To: Kaslin

Get used to eating or spiting out banana seeds. As the story says, their are many types, but perhaps the greatest impediment is the fact any non-hybridized banana will have seeds, and most would say: “Banana seeds, gross!!!”


9 posted on 03/16/2014 9:07:51 AM PDT by nomad
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To: Kaslin

daughters don’t compete is Pinewood derby’s

Girls can’t be Boy Scouts till they are 14


10 posted on 03/16/2014 9:09:52 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... History is a process, not an event)
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To: Graybeard58

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/02/why-the-30-bananas-a-day-diet-is-monkey-business.html


11 posted on 03/16/2014 9:10:34 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: Jack Hydrazine

The Banana Splits


12 posted on 03/16/2014 9:25:29 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: Kaslin
Today I Found Out nearly all commercial banana plants are perfect clones of one another and most originate from one single plant from Southeast Asia. Now to be clear, there are approximately 1000 different types of banana plants in the world today and within each variety most are generally clones of one another, although some do have a bit of genetic diversification. But “the” banana, since the 1960s, the one sold commercially in supermarkets the world over, is the Cavendish banana.
13 posted on 03/16/2014 9:28:21 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Kaslin; All

14 posted on 03/16/2014 9:30:58 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Kaslin

Here in Hawaii we grow our own, multiple varieties, and the growing season never stops. My freezer is currently loaded with 3 trees’ worth, and 2 more soon to be cut down.


15 posted on 03/16/2014 9:43:20 AM PDT by jobim (.)
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To: Graybeard58

What I’ve noticed lately is that the bananas at the store don’t ripen normally when you get them home. They tend to remain hard and relatively tasteless.

We might as well change to US products like cranberries and blueberries and strawberries.


16 posted on 03/16/2014 9:46:55 AM PDT by wildbill
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To: martin_fierro
He shoots beaucoup bananas out of his nose and into her lap. Despite the rather peculiar Freudian implications of this, they both smile winningly and he then flies away, levitated apparently by bananas.

It's safe to say that he's rather fond of them, sort of a postmodern Southeast Asian St. Nick of bananas.

It's no wonder Dole signed the guy, he's like some sort of demigod for the banana-involved.

17 posted on 03/16/2014 9:46:57 AM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: Kaslin
It would be ironic if, as we turn into a banana republic, the republic may have to go without bananas.

My late father loved bananas all of his life. Unfortunately during the last few years of his life, he wasn't allowed to eat them because of the potassium.

18 posted on 03/16/2014 10:11:57 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: Kaslin

Somebody with real talent (not me) should write a song, an Ode To The Yellow Banana. They could use 12 string acoustic, and find a guy with a voice like Leo Kottke or Gordon Lightfoot.


19 posted on 03/16/2014 10:27:16 AM PDT by lee martell
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To: MUDDOG
I've heard that the Gros Michel tasted better than the Cavendish.

I've also heard that the "banana" flavors developed in candy and ice cream predate the Cavendish, which is why they taste somewhat odd to us, a bit too tart and not very "banana".

20 posted on 03/16/2014 10:46:53 AM PDT by Rinnwald
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To: Kaslin; zot; NYer

Being descended from the Cavendish family, I heartily endorse the eating of the Cavendish banana.


21 posted on 03/16/2014 11:04:49 AM PDT by GreyFriar ( Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Kaslin

“The Cavendish banana — the vitamin-packed yellow beauty found in most of the Western world — could be going the way of the dodo,” reported MSN News last year.

Geeez, you’d think a guy with a simple quiet banana fetish could get through his life unthreatened. What a world, what a world...


22 posted on 03/16/2014 11:11:50 AM PDT by TalBlack (Evil doesn't have a day job.)
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To: martin_fierro; Kaslin; Charles Henrickson
the Gros Michel, in the 1950s

Coming in at ~ 10 lbs. that was sorta my moniker then ....

23 posted on 03/16/2014 11:22:47 AM PDT by mikrofon (Big #60 on 10/01)
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To: wildbill

Have you eaten a store bought tomato lately? Well, not just lately but for years, they are all the same size, perfectly red, perfectly round and perfectly tasteless. I grow my own and at least have good fresh tomatoes in season.

I bought a couple of pears lately, they tasted like water, that is to say, no taste at all.


24 posted on 03/16/2014 11:25:08 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (God is not the author of confusion. 1 Cor 13: 33)
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To: Kaslin

I hate bananas but this would be a shame.

I have no doubt someone will come up with the solution and make a ton of money.

It is weird but I ate bananas and banana flavored items when I was a kid but somewhere along the way I developed a strong aversion to the smell and taste.

I have to avoid the produce section sometimes when they have very ripe bananas.

Four years ago when I was in the hospital I told them DO NOT bring me bananas, any melon except watermelon and no canned spinach, all of which the smell makes me sick. Of course they brought me a damn banana. Good thing I saw it before the nurse got near my bed. I told her that better not be for me and if it was she can just get rid of it before she took another step closer.


25 posted on 03/16/2014 11:41:30 AM PDT by CARDINALRULES (Tough times never last -Tough people do. DK57 -- 6-22-02)
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To: Kaslin
There are still a lot of bananas in the supermarket when I go there.

The Whole Foods has the best produce selection and also different types of banana - including the plaintain, which tastes good fried. But not so much raw.

We do need to get used to new things. Perhaps the Cavendish banana will go the way of the crimson flowered broad bean.

26 posted on 03/16/2014 11:44:30 AM PDT by SamAdams76
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To: Kaslin

WOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

27 posted on 03/16/2014 11:48:30 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (The Left: speaking power to truth since Shevirat HaKelim.)
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To: Kaslin
Two is the bare minimum I regard as necessary to sustain life. I'm not ashamed to say there are days when I've gone through five.

I wonder what he weighs? I cannot eat even one without gaining two pounds.

28 posted on 03/16/2014 11:52:13 AM PDT by Albion Wilde (The less a man knows, the more certain he is that he knows it all.)
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To: All

A yellow banana is an unripe banana.


29 posted on 03/16/2014 11:52:35 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: MUDDOG

It seems strange that older Americans grew up with a banana that doesn’t exist anymore.

No wonder the bananas don’t taste as good as they used to.


30 posted on 03/16/2014 12:06:25 PM PDT by ansel12 ((Libertarianism offers the transitory concepts and dialogue to move from conservatism, to liberalism)
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To: Kaslin

31 posted on 03/16/2014 1:34:14 PM PDT by Gritty (Inside every liberal is a totalitarian screaming to get out! - David Horowitz)
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To: GreyFriar

Maybe we will all be singing the old New York street vendor song, “Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today.”


32 posted on 03/16/2014 2:16:39 PM PDT by zot
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