Declining Banana Quality On A Raw Food Diet - Why Are The Bananas Bruised?
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Declining Banana Quality On A Raw Food Diet - Why Are The Bananas Bruised?

by David Kaufmann
(Santa Fe, NM, USA)

David's Question:


Both in New Jersey and New Mexico I have recently become more aware that if a banana is bruised, cutting out the bruise, does not solve the problem, as cutting the banana lengthwise frequently reveals spoiling for many inches.

Some bananas even look ok on the outside but lengthwise cutting may again reveal spoiling.

This raises a number of questions:

I wonder if anyone else has noticed this?

I wonder if this has been caused by changes in shipping practices? Possibly colder refrigeration, irradiation, or some type of gassing? (Also even after trying to pick out decent looking ones at the store, once home some never ripen properly.)

Bananas seem to be the most carbohydrate-rich fruit, and this being the case I am concerned about being able to maintain body heat as the weather gets cooler, as I don't live in the tropics, and having to throw away so much purchased produce seems impractical. Any suggestions?

Andrew's Answer:

Hi David.

First, fruits of all types increase and decrease in quality, rise and fall in price, and are subjected to various conditions which cause them to degrade. Fruits are a highly time-based and condition-based food source, so this is to be expected. They're not like rice, which can sit around for years and be beaten to a pulp and still be edible.

The primary lesson is to not become too focused on using one food as your primary fuel source, and there's no need to have this mindset.

Bananas are a frequent staple for low fat raw foodists, especially new ones, because they are fairly calorically dense, cheap, and usually abundantly available. New raw foodists are especially prone to relying on them.

This is fine while you're getting your feet under you, but it's a really bad idea to be so reliant on a food that the thought of your supply being interrupted causes you to worry.

Especially in the summer and fall seasons of fruit abundance, I suggest you experiment with eliminating bananas from your diet and experiencing life without them to see that it's really not that big of a deal if you can't get them.

Shopping Smarter:

If you're not already doing so, I suggest you stop using supermarkets for most of your fruit purchases and start buying wholesale to cut out a middle man of little value and save yourself a lot of money.

Possible Banana Damage:

I don't have enough information about the bananas in question to make any sort of analysis, but it's possible the supermarket(s) are subjecting them to some sort of processing that's taking a toll. This would be sidestepped if you're buying from a wholesaler.

It's also possible the damage is being done farther up the distribution chain, or that there's some issue with farming or import practices.

However, I've certainly heard no country-wide outcry about the decline of bananas, so I'm tempted to think this is a regional issue, isolated to one brand of bananas, a few growing regions, one distribution channel, etc.

Are you trying to go to a grocery store to look for ripe bananas or are you buying them green?

Although you can sometimes score cheap "overripes" this way, I sometimes find that those ripe bananas that have been sitting around the store are of poor quality, much abused, and frequently display the issues you're talking about.

I'd try to buy when they're completely green and ripen them at home.

Alternatives To The Banana:

There are plenty of other carbohydrate-rich sources of healthy fuel, although few are as convenient as bananas.

Plantains take work to ripen properly, but are more calorically dense and cheaper than bananas.

Dates are another dense source of calories, and may be grown in desert areas close to your home in New Mexico.

Here is a brief calories per dollar analysis of a few fruits available for wholesale purchase in New York City in April of 2011. Prices will of course vary by season, weather patterns, how far you are from a shipping port, the population density of the area you live in, etc.

Calories Per Dollar Of Various Fruits:

Plantains: 1,504 calories per dollar
Bananas: 798 calories per dollar
Medjool Dates: 363 calories per dollar
Red Delicious Apples: 278 calories per dollar
Tommy Atkins Mangoes: 268 calories per dollar
Pineapples: 188 calories per dollar
Red Grapes: 187 calories per dollar
Cantaloupes: 187 calories per dollar.
Navel Oranges: 156 calories per dollar.


Following Up:

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