Skip to main content

Yes, we'll soon have no bananas, At least like the ones we have now.

Guess what the top-selling item is at Walmart?

The banana. And we're running out of bananas as we know them.

A rapidly-spreading fungus is threatening to wipe out the Cavendish banana, the kind we're used to. Panama Disease, or Tropical Race 4, spreads easily and cannot be controlled by fungicides. It has heavily infected Cavendish bananas all over Asia. The spread of the fatal strain of Panama Disease to South America seems to be only a matter of time, and scientists believe that it won't be long until the Cavendish banana ceases to be a viable staple for worldwide consumption

Wild bananas are inedible because their flesh is riddled with the hard, undigestable seeds which permit them to reproduce. The bananas we eat are seedless mutant plants which have to be artificially cultivated. All the bananas in grocery stores all over the world are effectively clones of one another. So they're especially vulnerable to scourges like Panama Disease. They can't mutate or evolve in self-defense because their genome is always the same.

We have already endured one bananapocalypse caused by Panama Disease. Have you ever noticed how banana flavored stuff doesn't really taste like bananas? Well, maybe it does. That strange, slightly artificial flavor is said to resemble that of the  Gros Michel, the strain that was the world's dominant banana until the 1950's. It was during that decade that a different strain of Panama Disease, which had already begun creating shortages thirty years earlier (giving rise, as you may or may not have suspected, to the song, "Yes, We Have No Bananas") finally rendered the Gros Michel impractical to grow in the numbers necessary to meet the world's demand,  and made it necessary for Cavendish to replace it.

The Cavendish was bred to be immune to the strain of Panama Disease which doomed the Gros Michel. But the fungus has evolved to attack the Cavendish, too. The poor thing can no more evolve to defend itself than the Gros Michel could, and the days of the world's standard banana seem numbered for the second time.

This does not mean that bananas themselves will be extinct, however.  There are several varieties of banana that could replace the Cavendish, but they won't taste like it any more than the Cavendish tasted like the Gros Michel.  The Manzano, which some see as the leading contender to replace the Cavendish, is said to have a flavor which most people like but one that is very dissimilar to that of the Cavendish. Some compare its taste to that of an apple.

Or the new standard banana could be an artificially produced hybrid of the Cavendish and some other strain, preferably resistant to Panama Disease. We're in no danger of losing the banana as such, but once again we may have to get used to a new strain which doesn't taste like what we think of when we think of a banana.

So enjoy your Cavendish bananas while you can. They may soon be only a memory.

Photo by Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Popular posts from this blog

McMullin, Kasich, Hickenlooper, Huntsman, or somebody else sane in 2020!

I don't expect to be disenfranchised in 2020. I'm looking forward to Evan McMullin running against President Trump and whatever left-wing extremist the Democrats nominate. McMullin may or may not run for the Senate next year, and he may or may not run for president as an independent again next time around, but the nation can't afford to lose its most eloquent and intelligent critic of the populist takeover of the Republican party and the Executive Branch. We need the man in public life.

But interesting alternatives have developed. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been mentioned as a potential primary challenger for Mr. Trump. I hope somebody continues the fight for the soul of my former party, even though I believe it to be a lost cause. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is reportedly also considering a challenge to Mr. Trump. While I tend to see him at this point as somewhere to the left of where a candidate I would feel comfortable supporting might be, I would wish him well. Still, I see…

A modest proposal for a shocking innovation which is completely within the rules but which would, if adopted, revolutionize college football

I call it defense.

The idea- crazy as it may sound- is to supplement the scoring of points by your offense with an attempt to stop the other team from scoring them. Yeah, I know.  Really "out there," isn't it? But it has a history of winning not only games but championships. Modern college teams should try it more.

I'm a bit bummed about the Rose Bowl outcome but amused by the score. It seems that certain conferences aren't sure whether they're playing college football or high school basketball! I've noticed that in the scores of Sooner games. Last season the nation's college teams set a record by scoring an average of slightly more than 30 points each per game. That's a lot. Historically, that's a REAL lot.

The final score of the Rose Bowl was 54-48, though to be fair that was in double overtime. But to get there, the teams had to be tied 45-45 at the end of regulation! Last year was even worse. Southern Cal beat Penn State 52-49- in regulat…

A third party President in 2020?

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Searsby, the campaign manager for Evan McMullin last year, at an event for Evan here in Des Moines during the campaign. Here's an interview with Joel by Jon Ward of Yahoo News on the ways in which centrist French President Emmanuel Marcon's out-of-nowhere landslide election last year may serve as an example for the inevitable bid to elect a rational, moderate third party candidate in 2020.

I have a feeling that it will be Evan McMullin again. But names like John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, and Sen. Lindsey Graham also keep popping up. Word is that Kasich may challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, an endeavor in which I'd wish him well but hold out very, very little hope for his success. I sadly expect that my conviction that the Republicans are dead as a vehicle for rationality and the reuniting of our fractured and divided country to be confirmed by the easy renomination of the most unfit and unqualified preside…