Most of us know of only 1 type of banana.
It's the kind we see at all of our grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and even gas stations. We're so familiar with this type of banana that most of us didn't even know other kinds existed (until now)!
There are red bananas, green bananas, small bananas, and large bananas. They grow everywhere from Malaysia, to Australia, to Africa, to Jamaica, and South America. Some are eaten fresh, while others are cooked. Some are used only for decoration, while others are grown just for their plant fibers and can be made into things like carpets and much more.
A fruit stand in Jamaica selling bananas
The kind of banana we know and have grown up eating is called a Cavendish banana, named after William Cavendish. This is actually a large subgroup which has a myriad of banana varieties that fall underneath it, but many of them look virtually the same. The Cavendish bananas we know are large, yellow, starchy, and...tasteless.
Yeah, I said it.
The Cavendish banana we know only became widespread in the 1950's after Panama Disease nearly wiped out the previous, more tasty, Gros Michel banana. The Gros Michel was the most popularly traded banana type in the West pre-1950's and was almost completely obliterated by Panama Disease, which is a fungal disease of the roots.
Since bananas are hybrid clones of each other and cannot grow without being grafted, Panama Disease seriously threatened the banana industry at the time. The Cavendish banana quickly saved the trade by being able to be grown in the same soil that the Gros Michel was previously grown in, all while not being overtaken by Panama Disease.
Gros Michel bananas growing in Jamaica
Speaking of banana clones, have you ever stopped to think about why bananas don't have seeds? I mean, they're a fruit aren't they? And all fruits should have seeds, shouldn't they? So where are the seeds in bananas?
True wild bananas actually do have seeds that are super hard and the banana flesh is much less than what were used to in our modern Cavendish banana.
There are 2 types of bananas from which the approximated 1,000 varieties of bananas come from. They are Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Musa acuminata is the group sweet bananas fall under, whereas Musa balbisiana is the group for wild type, seed bearing bananas. It is my understanding that by cross breeding the Musa acuminata and the Musa balbisiana, people throughout the years have been able to create seedless bananas of all varieties. The tiny black specks we see in Cavendish bananas today are remnants of seeds. Though I've never personally found or tasted a seeded banana, they are still grown and eaten in Asian countries like Thailand and seeds are even sold online.
`Many people ask me why I don't eat "regular" bananas and the answer is because they are tasteless, starchy, and further hybridized than they should be. We know that all fruit should have seeds and I do not eat seedless fruits, with the exception of burro bananas and baby bananas.
I've been blessed to occasionally find the Dr Sebi approved burro banana in African shops across London and the flavor is incomparable! It's sweet and smooth and not at all stringy or thick tasting like the Cavendish. Dr Sebi approves burro bananas because he says they're alkaline. Though it is difficult to find research on burro bananas specifically, I believe they're alkaline because they are one of the least hybridized bananas that exist.
Burro bananas, known for there squareish shape
Starch is the binder that glues together hybrid foods. When the body needs to break down this starch it produces carbonic acid. Too much carbonic acid can begin to break down the cell membrane and begin to directly cause the destruction of individual cells, creating a breeding ground for disease.
The banana we have become accustomed to has, by now, become so crossbred that it is further away from the original wild seeded banana, meaning it is less alkalizing and contains lots of harmful starch.
Once this starch is digested it is then converted into sugar, where it then is converted into ethanol. Ethanol is just another name for alcohol and alcohol has adverse effects on the human body because it is a poison. You can now understand why eating too many hybrids can be bad for your health.
I'm not saying not to ever eat Cavendish bananas again. Any raw fruit, no matter how it was grown, is still always going to be the best option when compared to anything processed, refined, or otherwise stripped of its nutritional value. I don't buy or snack on Cavendish bananas, but that doesn't mean I won't get an acai bowl when I'm out and about just because it's made with a Cavendish banana. We can only do our best.
An acai bowl made with a Cavendish banana
Gros Michel bananas
I was under the impression Gros Michel bananas were extinct due to Panama Disease, so when I discovered them on a recent trip to Jamaica I knew I absolutely had to give them a try! I was delighted to taste such a velvety, smooth, sweet banana that left its full flavor on my tongue! I ate loads of those bananas while on my trip because I don't know when I will ever find them again.
My first day in Jamaica, eating a Gros Michel banana
Gros Michel banana peels
Have you ever tasted banana flavored candy, ice cream, or other treats and wondered why it doesn’t taste like banana? It’s because the flavor is modeled after the Gros Michel banana!
Where can I find good bananas?
Unfortunately, burro, baby, and Gros Michel bananas are hard to come by. The reason simply being they aren't typically produced for export on an international scale.
Gros Michel bananas can be found all over Jamaica, just ask. As for the burro and baby bananas, your best bet is to look for an African and Asian shop near you and ask them. More than likely they'll have their own name for these bananas and there could be some confusion as to whether or not they are exactly the ones you're looking for.
It has been attempted to try to gather all names for all banana varieties, but unfortunately it is difficult because different people in different countries call different bananas by different names.
I love bananas!
Bananas have been a main source of our diets, vegan or not, for a long time now and it won't slow anytime soon. Particularly for us plant based eaters, bananas create the basis of a lot of our dishes. Smoothies, acai bowls, and nice cream all require bananas so I don't expect anyone to stop eating them any time soon.
I do think we're all deserving of a tastier and smoother banana though and so I challenge you to find better bananas in the city you live. Don't settle for the bland Cavendish! Ask around, check new markets, find your Asian and African markets, and for the first time in your life, try a real, good, banana!