Would you be able to survive without bananas? | The Tylt
According to multiple reports, disease threatens the existence of bananas as we know them. Given that just one type of banana, the Cavendish, accounts for 99 percent of banana exports, a single disease has the power to empty grocery shelves and, more importantly, upend economies. But not everyone would mourn the loss of bananas. Despite its title as the most popular fruit in the world, there are plenty of people who would rejoice in a world where they never again have to smell this sickly fruit. Could you survive without bananas?
Would you be able to survive without bananas?
Bananas are no stranger to disease. Your parents and grandparents likely grew up eating an entirely different species of banana than what you're used to, called the Gros Michel. This kind of banana was wiped out entirely in 1965 due to a fungal infection known as Panama disease.
Now, the banana eaten all over the world—the Cavendish—is staring down a new strain of a similar infection. For decades, bananas have been touted as the "world's most popular fruit." Beyond improving everything from breads to cakes to ice cream, bananas also account for 75 percent of the tropical fruit trade.
But for some, bananas are among the lowest of the low when it comes to fruit. Their mushy texture and distinct taste and smell turn many away. Bananas come beaten and bruised and generally look unappealing, despite their bright yellow peel.
But again, the world's dependence on a single type of banana leaves everyone at risk if and when the Cavendish succumbs to disease, rendering crops inedible. According to the Freakonomics podcast, the Cavendish banana accounts for "99 percent of the banana export market," which means a single infection could wipe out the international banana trade.
The E.U. imports around six million tons of Cavendish bananas each year, or 110 bananas per person; the U.S., about 130 bananas per person. Canada beats us both, with 150 bananas. So you can imagine there would be a lot of unhappy people if the banana we all eat were, once again, under existential threat.
According to Andrew Biles, the former CEO of Chiquita bananas and pineapples, bananas are the fourth-most important crop in the world, behind rice, wheat and corn:
The economic value generated by the banana industry is some $52 billion. And there are some 400 million people that rely on bananas for a staple food or a staple source of income. There are many countries if they did not have bananas, they would go short of food.
If disease were to end the Cavendish banana with no alternative in place, the economic consequences could be catastrophic.
But for some who are immune to the economic impact of the banana trade, these yellow bushels remain nauseating. Cosmopolitan's Dusty Baxter-Wright lists a number of reasons for her own banana-aversion, including:
The texture is across between cat sick and baby food which culminates into gross and slimy territory.
The peel. THE PEEL. It's a whole other category of absurdity. Whose idea was it to put a mushy slime ball of fruit inside an equally slimy skin? Gross.
In case there was any doubt, Baxter-Wright concludes of bananas:
They taste like the inside of a mouldy sock that's been left to fester in the bottom of the bin for too long.
No one will miss the smell of a moldy sock.