Top Ba­nana

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE MINI PAGE -

V.I.F. — Very Im­por­tant Food

Ba­nanas are one of the main food sources in the world. If dis­ease were to wipe out ba­nanas, a lot of peo­ple would starve. Peo­ple in many coun­tries de­pend on ba­nanas for their meals.

For ex­am­ple, in Amer­ica, each per­son eats an av­er­age of 25 pounds of ba­nanas each year. But in parts of Africa, each per­son eats an av­er­age of 900 pounds per year. (One pound equals about three ba­nanas.)

Ba­nana world

Al­though there is only one species of ba­nana, there are about 1,000 va­ri­eties. Over thou­sands of years, peo­ple have cre­ated or grown new types.

All but about 20 to 30 of those 1,000 va­ri­eties are ed­i­ble. Ined­i­ble va­ri­eties still grow in the wild with big, hard seeds. The ed­i­ble ba­nanas are all grown by peo­ple mak­ing cut­tings.

Sav­ing on costs

By stick­ing to one ba­nana va­ri­ety, com­pa­nies save money. All the ba­nanas ripen at the same rate, mak­ing ship­ping cheaper.

Fa­vorite ba­nana

The ba­nana you eat is prob­a­bly a Cavendish, the top ba­nana in Amer­ica and Europe. It makes up 99 per­cent of all ba­nanas ex­ported, or sent from the coun­try where they are grown.

How­ever, peo­ple from other coun­tries be­lieve dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties taste much bet­ter.

Ba­nana dis­eases

Dif­fer­ent dis­eases are at­tack­ing the Cavendish in Asia. Ex­perts are wor­ried that this dis­ease could spread to Africa and Latin Amer­ica. If it does, we may no longer be able to get our fa­vorite ba­nana.

These dis­eases are car­ried in dirt and wa­ter, so they spread eas­ily from crop to crop. Just a cou­ple hand­fuls of con­tam­i­nated dirt could spread the dis­ease to healthy fields. A hur­ri­cane, for ex­am­ple, could blow con­tam­i­nated soil to other coun­tries.

A boy sells ba­nanas in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.