View full issue

This link was published in:

The Quiet iPad

by M.G. Siegler


Humans Made the Banana Perfect—But Soon, It’ll Be Gone

Rob Dunn:

Just as the British had earlier switched from coffee to tea (substituting one caffeinated drink in a cup for another), Americans switched from the Gros Michel banana to the Cavendish. The advertising was so good that the new banana, the Cavendish, was even more successful commercially than had been its predecessor, the Gros Michel. Bolstering the Cavendish’s sales was the shift of American populations to cities, where the connection between what consumers bought and what grew well locally had been severed. Sales of the Cavendish banana were strong, and they continue to be.
It is with very few exceptions the only kind of banana you find in stores outside the regions where bananas grow. Its success fuels the economies of whole countries. It is the biggest export of Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, and Belize and the second most valuable export for Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. If you were born after 1950, you are unlikely to have ever purchased any banana other than the Cavendish clone—other than what is now the world’s largest organism.

I don't know about you, but I had no idea about any of this. And now because of the lack of diversity in bananas, we run the risk of losing them... It is, quite literally, bananas. 🍌


Want to receive more content like this in your inbox?