© Copyright 2014 CE.
by Lin Stone


Bananas are the most popular fruit sold in the United States. They are available in supermarkets throughout the year. They are now grown in tropical areas around the world.  Bananas grow upside down in clusters. They are really herbs and do not grow on trees. Bananas are in fact, close relatives of the orchid and lily family.

History tells us that Malaysia was one of the ancient cradles of a banana civilization. There is ample evidence of modern human habitation in Malaysia that dates back some 40,000 years. The country lies east of India and almost directly south from Cambodia nestled between the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

Here the ocean is extremely shallow and holds its summer warmth better. The shores of the Malaysia peninsula almost uniformly rise gently away from the ocean. Scientists believe that some of the rain forests in this area are 130 million years old.

The first edible bananas we know of can be traced back to this Indo-Malaysian region. The first time they were officially introduced in European markets was in the 10th Century CE.. The fore-runners of the modern banana cultivars are thought to be the diploid bananas (that is to say, bananas endowed with 2 pairs of chromosomes) M. acuminata and M. balbisiana. Both species are seeded and inedible varieties. Intra-species and finally inter-species crosses resulting in infertile seedless cultivars were selected by the local inhabitants and cultivated providing us with the hybrids that we have today. (reported by Robinson, 1996)

Back in the early 1900s pessimistic people would say things backwards, like -- "You don't have any bananas, do you?"

Fruit vendors in New York at that time were often legal immigrants still struggling with the English language, the most dificult language of all.  How do you answer a double-barreled question like that, they wondered.  "If I do have bananas for sale should I answer yes, or should I answer no?

It was a real puzzle for them.  To clear the matter up, the vendors responded with both positive and negative affirmations ...  "YES!  We have no bananas!" 

Someone wrote a song about the cultural misunderstanding and it became quite popular. 

Bananas are one of the first solid foods that babies enjoy. They contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose. Is it any wonder very few infants are allergic to bananas?

Bananas make a perfect baby food because they are very easily digested. Bananas remain a perennial favorite among children because of their great taste. Besides that bananas keep their high-energy bodies at peak performance. Children don't grow out of their liking for bananas. Grownups continue to love bananas right on into their retirement years.

The versatile banana can be eaten just by shucking the peel, but be careful where you throw the peel away becaus it decomposes rapidly.

Kids love to cut bananas up over their cereal.
Is there a bakery anywhere that doesn't offer banana cream pie?
Banana Nut Bread is a favorite everywhere because it is so easy to make.
Bananas can also be used to make cookies, sundaes, shakes and candy.
Have you ever enjoyed a flaming Bananas Foster? If you can't cook your way out of a paper bag you can just make a half-dozen tasty, frozen chocolate covered yummy delights.

Since they do not contain any cholesterol, fat, or sodium bananas are an excellent choice for eating healthy and are a great source for an instant energy boost. They are loaded with Vitamin B6, rich in Folate (folic acid), jam-packed with potassium and have a delicious trace of other highly nutritious minerals and vitamins.

In Malaysia, the banana crop is the second most widely cultivated fruit, covering about 26,000 ha with a total production of 530,000 metric tonnes. Nearly 50% of the banana growing land is cultivated with Pisang Berangan and the Cavendish type, and the remaining popular cultivars are Pisang Mas, Pisang Rastali, Pisang Raja, Pisang Awak, Pisang Abu, Pisang Nangka and Pisang Tanduk.

The worst thing about bananas is that so few people want to share what they raise. It is a staple crop and it fills the tummy up right nicely.  Bananas are cultivated for local consumption by smallholders, and only about 12% of the total Malaysian production is exported, mainly to Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong and the Middle East.

However, banana production in Malaysia has decreased because of an increasing threat of diseases (particularly Fusarium wilt), plus rising labor costs and a few marketing issues as well. Bananas grow upside down in clusters on stalks. They are really herbs and do not grow on trees. Bananas are close relatives of the orchid and lily family.

It is a simple matter to plant a new banana tree‌. All you have to do is cut off a chunk from another banana tree, stick it in the ground, and wait for your new banana tree to sprout roots and begin to send forth leaves. Consequently, by the 16th Century the ever-roaming Portuguese mariners had transported the plant from the West African coast and all the way over to the coasts of South America "“ where they really flourished. The beloved bananas and plantains are found today growing in virtually every humid tropical region on earth.

It is estimated that every year twenty eight million tons are now consumed by everyone from babies to nursing home residents.  This sweet, soft and wonderful fruit is one of the first solid foods that babies enjoy. They contain three natural sugars "“ sucrose, fructose and glucose. Is it any wonder that only a handful of infants are allergic to bananas Bananas make a perfect baby food because they are very easily digested. Bananas remain a perennial favorite among growing children because of their great taste. Besides that, bananas keep their high-energy bodies operating at peak performance. Nor do children outgrow their affinity for bananas. After attaining maturity, they continue to love bananas and that affection endures right on into their retirement years.

Local customs may determine just how green bananas are when they are ready to be eaten. Children pick out the one they want and snap it off --

It's ripe enough to eat when the child says it is. 

Compared to apples, bananas contain 4x protein, 2x carbohydrates, 3x the phosphorus, and 5x Vitamin A and Iron. It is also naturally high in Potassium. The versatile banana can be eaten simply by removing the peel. Everyone knows how to do that now, but when bananas were first served in the posh hotels of America written directions were distributed with delivery of the fruit. It was also necessary to warn everyone to be careful where they disposed of the outer peel.

As late as 4 decades ago, small grocery outlets had "œbanana hooksâ€‌ in their rafters. Each hook could hold an entire "œstalkâ€‌ of bananas. Shoppers simply snapped off as many bananas as they wanted. Stalks can be up to six feet long. When the stalks grew short on bananas grocers would cut a good deal on the remainder and sell them all off, still on the stalk. My own introduction to bananas came when we visited my cousins.

A kind grocer had cut them a grande deal on all the stalks he had left in the store. Stalks hung from every rafter in the house. My cousins were enjoying bananas cut up over their cereal, banana cream pie, banana nut bread, banana pudding, cookies, banana splits, sundaes, shakes, frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, and even banana candy. When they opened their lunch bags at school they had 3-5 bananas each, which they easily traded to the rich kids for other delicacies.

Since bananas do not contain any cholesterol, fat, or sodium, they are an excellent choice for eating healthy and are a great source for an instant energy boost. They are loaded with Vitamin B6, rich in Folate (folic acid), jam-packed with potassium and have a delicious trace of other highly nutritious minerals and vitamins. Because they are naturally high in potassium and low in salt bananas help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. They also contain a protein called tryptophan that human bodies convert to serotonin.

Serotonin appears to relieve the symptoms of depression by making people feel more relaxed, producing a marked improvement in mood. It is also used to help people fall asleep. The combination of potassium, magnesium, A1, B6, B12, and vitamin C levels in bananas can help smokers quit smoking by decreasing the withdrawal effects of sudden nicotine abstinence. Here are some of the lesser known uses of bananas: A high dietary intake of vitamin B6 over time seems to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer in women.

Morning sickness can usually be avoided by snacking on bananas between meals, which helps to keep blood sugar levels up. Iron deficiencies in women can cause weakness and sluggishness. Adding iron rich bananas to the diet can combat many of those deficiencies. PMS symptoms usually include mood swings caused by irregular blood glucose levels. Eating a banana will help regulate those levels. One friend of mine with diabetes made banana sandwiches by spreading peanut butter over two slices of bread, then adding slices of banana before joining the two slices of bread.

Equal parts of warm olive oil and mashed bananas make an excellent moisturizing face mask for dry, weathered skin. Apply the mixture to a clean face and wash off after fifteen minutes. Use a little bit of heated honey with a mashed banana for moisturizing all skin types. Apply the mixture to your clean face and wash off after fifteen minutes.

For firming your facial and neck muscles, try this recipe: 2-tbsp mashed banana, 2-tbsp egg white, 1-tsp honey, 1-tsp plain yogurt, 1/2-tsp jojoba oil, 2-tsp Fuller's Earth. Mash together and apply mixture to a clean face right before bathing. Wash off when you are finished bathing. Equal parts of mashed banana and egg yolk with 2-tbsp of curd, and 2-tsp each of lemon juice and honey make an excellent hair conditioner. For shiny, lustrous hair apply this mixture to your hair about 30-minutes before shampooing. Leg and toe cramps are believed to sometimes be caused by a potassium deficiency.

Adding potassium rich bananas to the diet seems to quell the cramps. Use a mashed banana paste for burns and wounds to encourage healing with minimal scarring. It is also a "secret" ingredient in a few Pain Reliever Gels.‌ It is believed by certain members of the inebriate society that drinking a cold banana milkshake sweetened with honey can usually cure the lingering poisons of a hangover. Bananas are naturally high in fiber and therefore, they make good natural laxatives. It is more effective to use the under ripe bananas to help relieve constipation.

On the other hand, you can use the over-ripe bananas for relief in diarrhea and dysentery. Cut a piece of banana skin and place the inside part over a wart. Use a band aid to hold it in place and repeat everyday for about three weeks or until the wart is gone. Try rubbing the inside of a banana peel over a mosquito bite to relieve itching and swelling. Bananas offer natural antacid relief from heartburn.

Researches also show that bananas help prevent high blood pressure, and are ideal dietary supplements for persons with arthritis and peptic ulcer. It is also low in lipid, which makes it good for obese persons. Besides being great food, banana fiber is used to make bank notes, tea bags, rope, thread and string. At first ripe bananas could only be shipped short distances by tramp steamers known as Banana Boats and had to be consumed immediately upon arrival.

With better harvesting techniques and strategic shipping the banana can now be enjoyed anywhere in the world. Bananas are the fourth-most valuable crop in the world. Only rice, wheat, and milk are more valuable than the banana crops. Nearly nine-tenths of the world"™s bananas are consumed in poor countries. The biggest banana producers in the world also have the hungriest markets.

The average person in Uganda, Gabon, Ghana and Rwanda relies on bananas and plantains for more than 300 calories each day "“ around 16% of the UN"™s nourishment threshold Brand names like Chiquita and Dole now dominate the banana market because of Cavendish bananas: this one variety is the foundation of world"™s multi-billion-dollar business.

But exports make up only 15% of global output. The rest of the bananas are consumed by citizens of the banana-producing nations are sold unofficially in regional markets. In fact, the top two banana and plantain producers India and China don't export bananas at all, even though they produce a combined 35% of the global yield.

On the other hand, bananas are the most important export commodity for Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize. They're in the top three exports in Colombia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, and Cameroon. United Fruit began burnishing its famously bloody reputation for union-busting after buying up huge banana-producing plantations in South America.

This left the local population with no bananas to eat, and the only work available had the wages set at starvation levels. The strategic importance of the banana crop meant that the troops of both Latin American dictatorships -- the namesake of the modern term, "banana republics‌" and the US government often enforced United Fruit's established wage preferences as a way of making the world safer for democracy.

Some other uses include,

Banana Products Banana fruit (Global) Banana paper (Australia)

Banana clothing (Philippines)

Banana bandage (Pacific Islands)

Other by-products: Banana fibre as a natural sorbent

Banana fibre as a base material for bioremediation and recycling

Banana fibre as a natural water purifier

Banana fibre as a base material for the paper and pulp industry

Banana fibre in the mushroom industry

Banana fibre in handicrafts and textiles

Popular table companions to the banana are cherries, strawberries and pineapples.

the end

About the author:  Lin Stone takes keen delight in producing articles that parents can read to their bright children.  "If children tried to read this by themselves, this would be over their heads.  But when the parent reads one of these subjects it opens up a dialogue between parent and child that can lead to better family togetherness." 
Parents can Click HERE to see a larger index of the writings of this author.


Another author has written an excellent article on this subject.  Read it here!