The banana is the fruit of a pseudo stem plant, grown from an approximately 7 m high corm. The plant was domesticated in Southeastern Asia and archaeological discoveries have shown that cultivation of the wild variety dated since 500 BC. The fruit can be very tasty when ripe and eaten raw, but it is also a common ingredient in some cuisines as unripe fruits. The texture varies from firm to mushy while the taste is sweet when ripe (that is when than color is bright yellow, sometimes even purple or red) and starchy when unripe (the color may seem greenish).
The most famous banana cultivar is “Cavendish”- it became a celebrity in global commerce in the ‘50s when the popular banana cultivar at that time, “Gros Michel”, was attacked by the Panama disease. The reason for which Cavendish bananas are so appreciated is not the taste, nor the flavor, but the less perishable properties it has. While the other cultivars must be collected while still unripe, Cavendish can be transported in a longer time and with lower costs because they ripe slower than the other varieties.
Bananas are used in tropical countries as a major staple food, just as Europeans use potatoes; but bananas are far healthier than potatoes. Only 100 grams of banana flesh contains 22 rams of carbohydrates, more than 30% vitamin B, and 15% vitamin C, not to mention large amounts of potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Although on the healthiest fruit list, bananas can cause allergies: the oral allergy syndrome (itchiness and swelling after approximately one hour after ingestion) and latex allergy (which can lead to urticaria and gastrointestinal problems).
The top banana producer is India with 23% of the worldwide crop, followed by Brazil and China. Due to the high demand and the large and important producers, bananas have been available as a “fair trade” is some countries.