What Happened To The Gros Michel Banana?
The Gros Michel banana, also called the "Big Mike" banana, was the dominant banana variety exported and eaten in the United States until around 1960. When a fungus called Panama Disease infiltrated banana plantations, it nearly wiped out the Gros Michel banana entirely. Growers had to resort to the Cavendish banana to save the industry, despite the fact that this longer cultivar was thought to be less tasty and more prone to bruising. Today, we enjoy Cavendish bananas pretty much exclusively, though they too are in danger of being decimated by fungus.
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Key Facts In This Video
There are dozens of species and thousands of varieties of bananas that humans don't eat. (0:54)
Cavendish bananas are all genetically almost identical. (1:32)
After the Gros Michel banana almost went extinct, the entire banana industry had to be re-tooled around the Cavendish banana. (2:11)