banana (musa sapientum fixa)
origin of the Banana
Some countries in South America still call the banana "guineos" because this fruit originated in Oceania (South-East Asia), on an island that "coincidentally" is called Papua New Guinea. Its Guinean name "banema" became Banana as we know it today. The scientific name for the Banana is musa sapientum. "Musa" comes from Antonius Musa who was the personal physician of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Musa was credited for promoting the first cultivation of the exotic fruit in the Roman Empire. The Banana was known to the ancient Egyptians and they even depicted them in their hieroglyphs.
Although there is evidence that the banana has been cultivated since ancient times, these historical bananas were not the sweet yellow banana we know today. In fact, there were many different types and colors of bananas, fuzzy ones or striped ones that tasted more like strawberry or apple. These Bananas were mostly not edible without cooking. Today's sweet yellow banana was discovered 1836 in Jamaica and soon after that cultivated on a big scale. It was the first type of Banana happen to be sweet, soft and easy to digest in its raw state. Today the Banana has become the largest fruit crop and the 4th most valuable food crop in the world, behind only wheat, rice, and milk. Worldwide over 100 billion Bananas are consumed annually. My most tasty banana I have eaten in Sri Lanka.
the fate of the Banana
India, China, Philippines and Ecuador are the world's largest Bananas producers. Although geographically distributed all over Asia, Africa, Middle America and elsewhere, globally there is only one banana. The cultivation of the banana is the story of hyper-optimized food production. Bananas don’t actually grow on trees - they grow on plants up to 25 feet high. Bananas have no seeds and nearly all commercial Banana plants are perfect clones of one another, originating from one Banana plant in South-East Asia. The Bananas we buy today in any supermarket in Europe are identical clones to the Bananas sold in North America. It is a miracle of biology, and because of this, an incredible biological risk.
Yes, Bananas are at risk of “imminent death.” That is because of a threat called Panama disease, a suffocating root fungus from Taiwan. Since all Bananas are clones, if this fungus can kill one Banana shrub, it can kill all Banana plants. Starting in the 1990s, the Panama disease began to destroy Banana plantations in Asia and Africa. Up to now the only thing protecting South American growers from the fungus are the two oceans surrounding it. Bananas are a miracle, that shouldn’t be destroyed by something as measly as a fungus. The bananas we eat today need humans to multiply. They couldn't exist on their own. Hopefully we can protect them.
health benefits of Bananas
Bananas are low in calories, have almost no fat and no cholesterol. They contain rich amounts of vitamin C, B6, potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre. Bananas are very healthy for your heart because of the mineral potassium, which is an electrolyte required to keep electrical impulses flowing through our body. Without these electrical impulses, our heart may not operate properly. If your muscles are causing trouble and hurt, go for bananas. The mineral magnesium works as a natural muscle relaxant. Bananas are the only fruit that contains the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6. This combination helps your body produce serotonin - a natural substance that alleviates mental depression. Means, eating a Banana will cheer you up.
Also the Banana peels can be used because they contain a special oil. Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on a scrape, burn or mosquito/bug bite will help the pain and itching go away, keeps the swelling down and keeps the wound from getting infected. To whiten your teeth naturally, rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth for about two minutes every night. Wiping the inside of a banana peel on your houseplant leaves, makes them shiny.
The fact sheet below gives an overview about the ingredients and nutritional values of Bananas. In the upcoming post I will give some healthy recipes.