Bananas: America’s Second Most Popular Fruit

Cavendish bananas are the main commercial banana cultivars sold in the world market.
(Photo by Steve Hopson [] via Wikimedia Commons)
Apropos of nothing, we’re going bananas today.

Here are some things you may not have known about the second most popular fresh fruit in America.

Bananas are technically berries which grow on large herbaceous plants, not trees. Herbs differ from trees in that they have no persistent woody stem above ground.

The species of banana that is most popular today is native to Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, and was likely first domesticated in Papua New Guinea.

Until the 1950s a variety called Gros Michel or “Big Mike” was the only type consumed in the United States until it was largely killed off by a fungus called Panama disease. The fungus caused shortages of bananas for most of the first half of the 20th century. One notable cultural reference to these shortages is the song “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” which was released in 1923.

Banana companies were left scrambling to find a variety that was resistant to Panama disease, could ship and keep well and was acceptable to the banana-buying public. The variety they picked was the Cavendish group. Cavendish includes the dwarf Cavendish and the grand nain, which is the variety Chiquita grows. Bananas reproduce asexually, meaning that all the plants are genetically identical, which prevents the evolution of  disease resistance. A new form of Panama fungus has developed which is infecting Cavendish. The new disease has yet to reach Latin America, but has wiped out crops in Southeast Asia, and may spell the end of the variety as a commercial crop.

Bananas and apples have been trading off the top spot on the list of most popular fresh fruit in the United States. In 2014, the average person consumed 11.6 pounds of fresh apples and 11.3 pounds of fresh bananas. Grapes, strawberries and watermelon round out the Top 5.

Our question: If you include fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice, what is the most popular fruit in the United States?

Today is Independence Day in Grenada.

It’s unofficially Ballet Day, National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, and Send a Card to a Friend Day.

It’s the birthday of writer Charles Dickens, who was born in 1812; writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was born in 1867; and comedian Chris Rock, who is 52.

Because our topic doesn’t have a specific year associated with it, we’ll pick a year at random.

This week in 1965, the top song in the U.S. was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by The Righteous Brothers.

The No. 1 movie was “My Fair Lady,” while the novel “Herzog” by Saul Bellow topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

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