Bananas – favorite fruit – an endangered species? #banana #biology

This isn’t the first time I read such a dire warning: will bananas vanish from the breakfast table?

bananas in a pantry

I didn’t go far for this picture – into my own kitchen pantry

The Cavendish, which makes up most of the global market — is under assault from insect infestations, declining soil fertility and climate change. But the biggest hazard by far are two plant pathogens that are scavenging their way through vast monoculture (large scale, single-crop) plantations of this fruit worldwide.

Industrial farming means machines do a lot of the work, and that means farms are created for machines. To be efficient, machines must be both smart and stupid. Where they’re stupid, we simplify and change the environment to fit their needs.

I don’t know how mechanized banana farming is, but the monoculture approach has generally produced huge amounts of cheap food. It’s a great success until it isn’t.

I doubt bananas are doomed. We’ve been through this before. In the 1950s, the Gros Michel variety was attacked by fusarium wilt, and so the Cavendish was bred to replace it. This lovely fruit now accounts for what we in America see in our stores. Still harvested from huge monoculture farms.

Today, there are hundreds of varieties of non-commercial banana. The beloved fruit will survive and probably never leave our shelves. In another few decades, we’ll breed another new variety to dodge another threat. We know how to breed bananas.

Now if we could only learn how to grow them sustainably. Maybe smarter machines are the answer. Or maybe smarter humans.


Eat Like a Martian -Banana #Beer in #Space #Mars ?

bananas in treeIn my new #scifi #book Born on Mars, a visitor from the European colony tastes banana beer in the Sino-African colony. Not a big part of the story – just a little fun on Mars.

Try it yourself at home:
You’ll need ripe bananas, some wads of grass, water, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae (which is also used for grape wine) or the microbe of your choice. Use cloth to filter the final product. On Earth you can add sorghum flour to improve the taste.

Clean your equipment with boiling water, and be sure to wash yourself, too.

Peel ripe bananas by hand. Use only bananas ripe enough to be peeled by BORN Ebook cover 300 dpihand

Extract Juice. Knead the bananas in the grass until clear juice is extracted. The residue will remain in the grass. Recycle that in your garden – settlers need every scrap of organic material available.

Mix 1 cup of water to 3 cups banana juice.

Mix sorghum flour if you have it, to taste. Start with 1 cup flour to 12 cups banana mix. Stir well.

Ferment in a covered container for 18 -24 hours.

Filter. Force the liquid through a cotton cloth bag with your hands.

Enjoy. The beer should be refrigerated and drunk with a few days.Ya gotta survive, but, hey – ya gotta live, too.

More ways to eat like a Martian:
fish supper
mealworm snack
practice on Earth for Mars
Martian colony demonstration

Thanks to gourmetsleuth and howtopedia