in the UK, we really love bananas. we eat over 5 billion of the Cavendish variety each year.
we demand perfection when it comes to bananas.
we like our bananas to look and taste perfect. we also expect them to be low-cost. but these high expectations drive some serious social and environmental problems, which aren't factored in to the price we pay for bananas in the supermarket.
so what are these issues?
our perfect bananas are threatened.
but they could be given a second* chance.
* technically we're already using our second chance. the original export banana, the Gros Michel, experienced commercial extinction in the 1960's. the Cavendish was its replacement. our blog explains more.
The fungal disease TR4 has devastated commercial plantations of Cavendish bananas in Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia’s Northern Territory, with total losses amounting to 388 million US$.
This fungal disease has also reached Africa, and it's a matter of time before it reaches Latin America, the world's banana stronghold. If we want to keep bananas on the table, we need to change our food system.
tropical race 4
a fungal KILLER
the answer?undiscovered variety
In Europe and the USA, large supermarkets tend to only stock the Cavendish variety, but around the world there are almost 1000 varieties of banana! Many of them far more delicious than what the Cavendish has to offer. Could banana diversity be the future?
The banana industry consumes more agrochemicals than any other in the world, except cotton. These pollutants are hazardous to human health and pose a real threat to local species.
2. INCOME INEQUALITY
On average, workers earn 5 - 9% of the total value of bananas, whilst retailers earn 36%-43%. This is not a living wage for workers, who spend up to 12 hours a day working in tropical heat.
3. a cosmetic product
The Cavendish banana is the result of selective breeding for hardiness and appearance. Whilst this means that the banana survives the freight shipping process without getting bruised, it does mean that we miss out on a whole lot of taste. High 'cosmetic' standards of bananas also result in high levels of waste. Surely we should be eating for the taste of what is inside the skin?