No, really, they are. For multiple reasons. Prepare yourselves for a journey through why bananas are probably the weirdest fruit known to man, and how we kind of made them that way!
- Bananas are radioactive. They’re pretty high in potassium, at 450 mg. I mean, it’s fine, you can handle it, but still, it’s weird.
- By definition, bananas are berries. True berries are fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and usually seeds. Bananas, though really tiny and unnoticed, have seeds. Those little black specks in the center of your bananas? Yeah, those are the seeds! Some don’t have any at all, though, and that’s just them being weird little sterile mutants.
- The banana tree is not a tree at all, but in fact the world’s largest perennial herb, at 30 feet tall. The stems of the banana plant have no wood, therefore they are not trunks, but densely packed leaves.
- The bananas you eat in the store today are not the same ones your grandparents were eating growing up. Until the 1960s, the Gros Michel banana was the most popular. But, it was pretty much genetically identical across the board, and one whopping spread of something called the Panama disease pretty much killed the entire commercial crop of it. So producers moved on to the variety we eat today, the Cavendish.
- BUT the Cavendish is also genetically identical. Every banana you’ve ever eaten has been genetically identical to every other one. The Cavendish is slightly more resistant to disease, but it can’t evolve disease resistance, so basically it could have the same fate at the Gros Michel.
And finally, one of the biggest reasons bananas are weird: some people just go nuts over them.
Take Fred and Kym Garbutt for example. They are the owners of Mecca, California’s International Banana Museum, home to more than 20,000 banana items, including a signed picture of Michael Cera in a banana suit.
Or Patrick Wightman, who completed the Barcelona Marathon on March 6th, 2011 in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 20 seconds…dressed as a banana. He holds the title of the runner of the fastest marathon dressed as a fruit (male) in the Guinness Book of World Records.
So go forth and enjoy your weird fruit (berry!) UofT, and try out some of these banana-centered recipes: Banana Orange Avocado Smoothie, Banana Bread, Banana Mug Cake, or Belgian Buttermilk Waffles with Glazed Bananas!
– Emily Hotton
About Chemistry – Bananas are Radioactive
Guinness World Records – Fastest Marathon Dressed as a Fruit (Male)
Lucky Peach – Seven Highlights of the International Banana Museum
Stanford Alumni – Bananas are Berries?