The book mentioned in this previous post is proving difficult to stop thinking about. The historical clarifications are part of it in a purely fascinating way (no domesticated animals in the pre-Columbian New World, really?); better understanding of phenomenal events such as the potato blight of 150+ years ago, and kudzu in the present day southeastern USA, are equally illuminating, if more alarming. For anyone who has lived in the old or new tropics, this naturally leads to thinking about bananas, and then the clicking starts. And if you are lucky you end up somewhere like this (click on the image above):
Mike Peed’s article in the January 10, 2011 New Yorker (abstract here; subscription required for the full version, and this is the kind of article that makes it worth subscribing) gives a pretty thorough understanding of the plight of bananas currently. This little bit of context gives a sense of how little you may actually know about these amazing fruits:
More than a thousand kinds of banana can be found worldwide, but a variety called Cavendish, which a nineteenth-century British explorer happened upon in a household garden in southern China, represents ninety-nine per cent of the banana export market. The vast majority of banana varieties are not viable for international trade: their bunches are too small, or their skin is too thin, or their pulp is too bland.