North America’s Banal Bananas

ipsedixit laments the fact that the bananas available in North American supermarkets seem to be pretty much the same. In other words, aside from ripeness, every big, yellow, and store-bought banana tastes the same as every other one. Why do bananas display so much less variation than, say, apples, oranges, or berries?

"Every American grocery store banana is as good as any other" because they’re all bland and tasteless (and all pretty much from the same big suppliers), arashall says. "When you get away from Dole, etc., there are lots of delicious variations on bananas [from] all over the world, and they are generally much more tasty (and not picked and shipped months in advance) than what we get here!" arashall says. "I had some tiny ones in India called an 'apple banana' and they were wonderful, and [they] did have a kind of apple-like background flavor. We are really missing out on how good bananas can be!"

porker always assumed that a “banana was a banana until I ate ripe, just-picked fruit in the Caribbean. They have quite a bit more flavor than the usual North American store-bought stuff."

Why are there so few "heirloom variety" bananas in American stores and farmers’ markets? Perhaps because bananas are more homogeneous than other fruits, sunshine842 says, and perhaps because they require hot, tropical environments to grow, leaving less space for local experimentation. "They need 24 months without frost to bear fruit—even in Florida, that's not a given every year," sunshine842 says.

Discuss: Is there such a thing as a "bad" banana; or to put it another way, is there such a thing as a "really good" banana?

See more articles
Share this article: