Photo: Getty Images
Should you prepare to buy your last bunch of bananas? According to a recent story in The New Yorker, the answer may be yes. The problem (which has also been deftly reported by writer Craig Canine, in Gourmet magazine and in an award-winning 2005 story for Smithsonian), is that growers have been relying on a single variety, the Cavendish and its genetic clones. What happens when you have a crop without genetic diversity? A disease, such as fungus Tropical Race Four, which is now running rampant, can take down an entire fruit. It wouldn't be the first time.
The Cavendish became popular with good reason: "They are the only variety that provides farmers with a high yield of palatable fruit that can endure overseas trips without ripening too quickly or bruising too easily," says New Yorker writer Mike Peed. Canine, who visited a Belgian lab that houses the world's largest collection of banana varieties, tasted some of the varieties that may one day replace the Cavendish, including the Yangambi Km5, which just so happens to be hundreds of years old. "When I tasted it, I imagined I was tasting the future," Canine wrote.
So will we be eating the Yangambi 5 on our Corn Flakes in a few years?
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