Whether you like them a little green and firm or browner and soft, I think we can all agree that bananas are a tasty — and mostly healthy treat.
Peeling back their yellow skin, you’re treated with a soft inner core that is packed with a range of nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and tryptophan (the same thing in turkey that makes everyone sleepy on Thanksgiving.)
This means they’re good for your mood, your appetite, your eyes, your bones, and can even help with muscle cramps and growing pains!
But the banana we know and love today is different from those our grandparents ate and VERY different from those of our ancestors multiple generations ago — some of which were super tiny or had inedible seeds inside.
At one time, the Gros Michel variety of banana was the most popular. It was both sweeter and creamier than the Cavendish bananas we eat today.
However, it fell victim to a catastrophic condition known as Panama Disease that destroyed most of the world’s Gros Michel banana crop.
Cavendish bananas — nearly half of all bananas grown today — face a similar threat from a different version of the Panama Disease and a fungal disease known as Black Sigatoka.
These diseases attack the roots of the banana plant, causing the plant to wilt and die.
But don’t worry, there are up to 1,000 different types of bananas (known as cultivars) in existence today, and banana farmers worldwide are working hard to fight back the disease and keep these tasty treats flowing to your kitchen, lunchbox, cafeteria, or store.