30 Bananas a Day!

I've read that bananas are supposed to have seeds but that humans genetically modified them to have super tiny seeds. Does that make them harmful? I've been using bananas as a staple for a while now. Just curious if anyone had any thoughts or information on it.

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Bananas just like nearly all commercial fruits and vegetables are highly modified from their ancestors - or their original parent. This has taken thousands of years in some fruits and vegetables but has been accelerated in the last  hundred years or so due to the level and extent of modern farming practices. You would in most cases find the ancestors of today's fruit and vegetable to be very unlike what you find the supermarkets today.

The ancestor of today's bananas (maybe I should call that banana, specifically the Cavendish banana) did have a seed. The banana you are probably eating most of the time is the Cavendish and it is a clone! That means every Cavendish banana is genetically identical to its parent, grandparent, great grandparent and so on!

Seeing that bananas are the world's most probably fruit there are grown on a massive scale. Often they have to be exported thousands of kilometers by ocean (i.e. South and Central America to Europe). Those that sell bananas want a quality, consistent product - as such cloning is a mechanism to achieve such an end. 

Moreover bananas have to be able to handle the long transport process without getting damaged. There are many varieties of bananas as you may experience if you travel to South East Asia. Many are superior in taste to the Cavendish but because they don't necessarily have a long shelf life and get damaged easily are not commercially viable. Here where I live there are general two varieties of bananas namely the Cavendish and Lady finger bananas - not much else.

The fact that the majority of the world's bananas crop is the Cavendish clone opens it up to a major risk which is Panama disease or any other fungus or bacteria which develops a liking for the bananas. If a disease takes hold then the world's banana crop could be seriously damaged or even wiped out! This is exactly what happened to the Gross Michel which was the world's most popular banana prior to the Cavendish. It was wiped out by Panama disease.


Food biologists and scientists are working to find new varieties of bananas that are more robust - able to handle disease better, handle well and have more taste than the Cavendish. This process may take a while.

There is no evidence that today's modern banana is harmful in any way compared to its ancestor. Actually if you go back to the original ancestor you may have had a difficult time obtaining an adequate meal. A high proportion of seed to edible flesh and probably not particularly sweet.

A more important question is whether the banana is a healthy food. I think the answer is overwhelmingly yes.

Of course you should eat a banana when it's fully ripe - when all the starches have converted into sugar and when they are highly digestible.

Over the last 15 years there are very days I have not eaten a banana and generally at least two or three.

Thank you for this. 



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