Banana Monoculture and Its Discontents

| Tue Jan. 4, 2011 1:18 AM EST

Felix Salmon on the blight threatening world banana production:

It turns out that the banana we all know and love — the Cavendish — is actually the second type of banana grown in enormous quantities and exported across Europe and North America. The first was the Gros Michel, which was wiped out by Tropical Race One; you might be saddened to hear that “to those who knew the Gros Michel the flavor of the Cavendish was lamentably bland.” Indeed, Chiquita was so sure that Americans would never switch to the Cavendish that they stuck with the Gros Michel for far too long, and lost dominance of the industry to Dole.

I asked my mother once if she remembered the bananas of her youth being better than the bananas of today, and she didn't. So maybe this whole banana blight thing is overrated. Then again, maybe not. Do I have any readers old enough to remember the taste of Gros Michel bananas? What were they like?

UPDATE: Commenter cld provides the dope:

The older bananas were tremendously better. They were larger and sweeter and rather creamier and the seeds within were longer and you could sort of taste them.

The texture of the Cavendish is more fibrous and not so even. On the other hand I think they keep a lot better than the Gros Michel, which would have spots all over it. (I mean on the inside).

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