Yes, we have no bananas . . .

Remember the Banana Tree?

It collapsed.

The image on the left was taken on 28 April. Image on the right on 04 May. That’s the difference a few days can make. On the right, the big tree is actually totally on the ground. Those leaves you see sprawled out all over the place, in other words.

Okay, I looked it up in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, my bible for most information, especially given that I don’t have internet at home, so can’t do searches there with any amount of regularity, and no, the colon is not involved in this type of regularity.

Brittanica has this to say about bananas:

fruit of the genus Musa, of the family Musaceae, one of the most important food crops of the world. The banana is consumed extensively throughout the tropics, where it is grown, and is also valued in the temperate zone for its flavour, nutritional value, and availability throughout the year. The plant is a gigantic herb that springs from an underground stem, or rhizome, to form a false trunk 3–6 m (10–20 feet)high. This trunk is composed of the basal portions of leaf sheaths and is crowned with a rosette of 10 to 20 oblong to elliptic leaves that sometimes attain a length of 3–3.5 m (10–11.5 feet) and a breadth of 65 cm (26 inches).

Okay, didn’t know that. I knew that bananas that are commonly found in grocery stores in North America are a seedless variety – less trouble for those who are consuming it. And my assumption went from there to the one seed, one plant theory. And it also led to the assumption that the bananas here are not of the seedless variety given that they grow everywhere – as in, not just in plantations or banana groves, but in back yards.

And now, of course, I want to know the exact definition of an herb so I understand how a banana is one of them.

A large flower spike, carrying numerous yellowish flowers, emerges at the top of the false trunk and bends downward to become bunches of 50 to 150 individual fruits, or fingers. The individual fruits, or bananas, are grouped in clusters, or hands, of 10 to 20. After a plant has fruited it is cut down to the ground, because each plant produces only one bunch of fruit. The dead plant is replaced by others in the form of suckers, or shoots, which arise from the underground stem at roughly six-month intervals. The life of one underground stem thus continues for many years, and the weaker suckers that it sends up through the soil are periodically pruned, while the stronger ones are allowed to grow into fruit-producing plants.

Huh. Okay. And it’s true, the bananas that are sold at the side of the road in various tiny little shops and stalls are usually green. It would seem that people buy them green then allow them to ripen after they’ve been purchased. As well, the bananas are hung on their stalk, usually three to six stalks hanging from the ceiling of the shop or stall. Customers then point to which bunch they want to buy, and it’s cut off the stalk for them then and there.

There are hundreds of varieties of banana in cultivation; confusion exists because of diverse names applied to one and the same variety in different parts of the world. Consumption of the banana is mentioned in early Greek, Latin, and Arab writings. Alexander the Great saw bananas on an expedition to India. Shortly after the discovery of America, the banana was brought from the Canary Islands to the New World, where it was first established in Hispaniola and soon spread to other islands and the mainland.

Suckers and divisions of the pseudo-bulb are used as planting material; the first crop ripens within 10 to 15 months, and thereafter fruit production is more or less continuous. Frequent pruning is required to remove surplus growth and prevent crowding in a banana plantation.

Desirable commercial bunches of bananas consist of nine hands or more and weigh 22–65 kg (49–14 pounds). Three hundred or more such bunches may be produced annually on one acre of land.

Can we do math? Um, let’s see. 300 bunches at 65 kg equals about 19500 kg. Or about 42900 pounds. At $0.59CDN a pound, that’s about $25300 CDN, or about $16450 US, or about Rs. 1,645,000.

Well, considering that the local price on bananas is somewhere around Rs. 30 a kilogram – and no, I have no idea if I’m way off – I haven’t priced bananas lately and don’t remember how much they were, but this is somewhere in the general neighborhood – that would mean that locally, the same amount of bananas would bring in something like Rs. 585000.

Yeah, about 1/3 or less of what you pay in North America. Sounds sorta close.

Hmm. I don’t know anyone who owns a banana plantation, but I’m curious. How labour intensive it is, what kinds of fertilizers and such there are. How expensive all that is. Does it provide enough money to support the family? You know. Basic questions like that.

The ripe fruit contains as much as 22 percent of carbohydrate, mainly as sugar, and is high in potassium, low in protein and fat, and a good source of vitamins C and A. A ripe banana is 75 percent water.

And it’s good for you if you have the runs – 1. to restore the electrolytes you’ve lost and 2. to stop you up. Hah!

Cooking varieties, or plantains (M. paradisiaca), differ from other bananas in that the ripe fruit is starchy rather than sweet.

Yeah. Knew that. Have eaten said plantain. But in some parts of the world, plantain refers to the sweet bananas rather than the starchy cousin. Just to confuse ya.

The United States imports more bananas than any other country; large quantities are also shipped to Great Britain and western Europe.

Really? The US? I wonder why.

Even for local consumption, bananas are not allowed to fully ripen on the plant. Frequently, ripening is artificially induced after shipment by exposure to ethylene gas.

And if you want to ripen other fruit, whether the bananas you have are ripe or not, you can put bananas and the under ripe fruit into a plastic bag, close it, and voila! induced ripening. By the same token, don’t put bananas into the same fruit basket as other fruit that’s already ripe, or they’ll oh, shall we be polite in phrasing this? rot.

I dunno. It was pretty interesting to me. But then, I’m a naturally curious person anyway. Just call me geek.


Oh. Wait. We already did.

Author: LMAshton

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