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Monday, 6 February 2012

Banana

HISTORY OF BANANAS

The origin of bananas is traced back to the Malaysian jungles of Southeast Asia,

In the Middle Ages, a banana was known as an “apple of paradise”.

Early 15th century Portuguese explorers discovered bananas in Western Africa and took them to the Canary Islands. The word “banana” is the native word for the fruit in Guinea.

The scientific name for a banana is "musa sapientum" which means "fruit of the wise man.".

In 1516, Friar Tomas sailed to the Caribbean bringing banana roots with him; and planted bananas in the rich, fertile soil of the tropics, thus beginning the banana's future in American life.

Bananas went on display in fruitier Thomas Johnson's London shop on April 10, 1633. It was the first time the fruit had been seen in Britain.


North Americans got their first taste of bananas at the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Each banana was wrapped in foil and sold for 10 cents.

Roger Ackerley (1863-1929), chief salesman of the banana importers Elders & Fyffes, was known as the 'Banana King.' He did much to make Britain 'banana-conscious' in the early 20th century.

Just before World War II, Britain was consuming 43 million bananas a week. They were banned from Britain from January 1941 as they are too bulky a cargo. The Ministry of Food said: "Oranges, for instance, have greater vitamin value and occupy less space." "Mock bananas," made from boiled turnips, sugar and banana flavoring, were a popular substitute.

Britain received its first shipment of bananas after World War II on December 31, 1945. Ten million of the fruit arrived abroad the SS Tilapa and many young children had to be shown how to peel and eat this new exotic treat.

At its peak in the mid-1950s, Ecuador was the largest banana-producing nation in the world.

The origin of the phrase "go bananas" is not clear.  It dates from the 1950s and may stem from the older phrase "go ape" for going wild or crazy.

In 1965 a tragic event took place on Moosic Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania, when a tractor-trailer carrying 15 tons of bananas lost control and crashed into cars, telephone poles, and houses on it's way down the hill, injuring many people and killing the driver. Singer/Songwriter Harry Chapin told the tale in his song "30,000 Pounds of Bananas."

A few decades ago, everyone ate a strain of banana called the Gros Michel. Its skin was more slippery than the Cavendish, the strain of banana that we eat today, which is the reason why banana peels have been such a prominent cartoon gag.

On March 10, 2014, Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fyffes plc agreed to a merger creating the largest banana company in the world.


THE BANANA PLANT

The banana plant can grow as high as 20 feet tall.

Banana plants are the largest plants on earth without a woody stem.

Although generally regarded as a tree, this large tropical plant is really an herb. That means it does not have a woody trunk like a tree.

The banana plant is the world’s largest herb and closely related to vanilla and ginger.

The banana plant cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of man.



Each banana plant bears only one stem of fruit. To produce a new stem, only two shoots known as the daughter and the granddaughter are allowed to grow and be cultivated from the main plant.

FUN BANANA FACTS

The biggest container ships can hold 745 million bananas in 15,000 containers. That’s one for every European and North American.

There are more than 500 varieties of bananas—most of them are in Africa and Asia. But Americans only eat one called the Cavendish.

There are bananas called "Red banana" that are maroon to dark purple when ripe.

A cluster of bananas is called a “hand.” A single banana is called a “finger.”

The common banana doesn't have seeds because it has three copies of DNA. An odd number doesn't split evenly when forming progeny, so the result is a seedless fruit.

Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.

The Malaysian phrase for the time it takes to eat a banana is "pisan zapra" and it was a measure of time used before clocks were invented.

Banana ketchup is popular in the Philippines.

India tops the league of banana production, followed by China, the Philippines and Brazil.

Americans eat more bananas than any other fruit: a total of 11 billion a year.


Bananas are about 99.5 percent fat free.

Bananas contain a natural chemical (which is also found in prozac) which can make a person happy.

Bananas are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the chemical serotonin, which helps you fall asleep.

Bananas turn brown because chemicals in the fruit react with the oxygen in the air by destroying cells, creating the brown color.

Roughly 35 per cent of a banana’s weight is contained in the peel.

Monkeys, like humans, peel their bananas and do not eat the skin.

Mosquitoes are attracted to people who just ate bananas.

As bananas ripen, the starch in the fruit turns to sugar. Therefore, the riper the banana the sweeter it will taste.

Bananas are naturally radioactive because they are high in Potassium-40 isotopes.

Potassium is a key ingredient in shoe polish. So, before you throw away the empty peel of the banana, use the inside of it to clean your leather shoes.

It would take at least 480 bananas to die of of potassium overdose.

A strawberry isn't a berry but a banana is.

The International Banana Museum in California is the largest shrine to a fruit in the world, with over 17,000 banana related items.

Here is a list of songs about bananas.

Sources Greatfacts.com, Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce, Daily Express

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