Two interesting stories about fruit!
Popular Science offers an interesting history of the banana. Although we think of banana as an atomic concept (i.e., we don’t think of varieties as we do with tomatoes or apples), the banana that consumers eat – the Cavendish – is the only banana there is. But in fact, there are many varieties, most not viable for growing/shipping/storing/eating. Way back when, the Big Mike was the banana available in grocery stores, but was effectively wiped out by fungus. It tasted different.
That alone is a bit mind-blowing for me – if I summon up the banana flavor in my brain, it feels like a universal constant. But 40 years ago, that constant was different! Wild. I’d love to taste one.
The story relates the efforts to prevent a similar fate befalling the Cavendish, and focuses more on challenges in the development of the Cavendish’s successor.
The Washington Post relates how growers of Red Delicious apples have selected for other attributes (hardiness and color) more than taste, and have turned one of the most popular apples into an also-ran. Some intersting insights into the production and distribution methods. Growing up, I certainly remember that most fruits had a season and you couldn’t get some things at different points in the year. The implication here is that consumers have a more consistent supply of produce, but that methods for storage preservation (i.e., Red Delicious apples can sit for months after harvest, in order to create a supply for after the season ends) may also lead to a decline in quality.