The World’s Most Popular Fruit

Did you know that almost ever banana you’ve ever eaten…

is the same kind of banana?

It’s called a Cavendish, and has been the predominant banana cultivar on supermarket shelves for decades.  The Cavendish originated at the estate of William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, in England, and was subsequently shipped all over the world!

Did you ever notice that bananas don’t have seeds? The reason that you have the same kind of banana everywhere is because without seeds, you only grow more bananas by taking cuttings from existing plants and rooting them! When you propagate plants this way, the new plants are genetically identical to their parent plants, and the good news is that you get the same kind of delicious banana over and over again.

This is great for a lot of reasons…until you find out why we mostly have this kind of banana now.

Before the Cavendish, the most popular banana cultivar was called the Gros Michel, or “Big Mike,” and actually, the Big Mike didn’t end up making it.  It was the same kind of banana over and over again, see, and when one plant caught a devastating disease, they were all done for.

So that’s where the easy to grow Cavendish came in.  Unlike the Big Mike, it was thought to be immune to Panama disease and grew in the same kind of soil, so it was an easy replacement and people went back to enjoying the most popular fruit in the world.

So far, so good…

Until now.

Though the problem has seemed far away all these years, the Cavendish banana has the same weakness the Big Mike did – all the plants are genetically the same.  Meaning, it’s only a matter of time before our beloved Cavendish bananas go the way of the Big Mike.

Luckily, there are other kinds of bananas to explore!

Here at Healthy Living, we are trying out some new bananas, the Apple Banana (I know, right, confusing), and the Thai Banana. As a produce nerd…that’s really exciting.

Imagine trying something as familiar as a banana, and having it look, smell, and taste completely new! Both of these bananas are ripe when the skin is yellow and has black patches – unlike the Cavendish that would be kind of yucky if it were completely black, that’s pretty much when the Apple and Thai bananas are at their best.  They get pudding-y and delicious at that stage, whereas before they get pretty dark, they are very astringent (but can be good for cooking).

They’re delightful and different from what you may expect. And look at it this way: what is going to blow your  mind more than a new kind of banana, when you’ve probably only had one kind before?