Lauren Bryant / Daily Nexus

Layers. Multiple of them can be found in onions, people, paint on walls … too complicated, a lot to reveal, often deceptive once you chip away at them. But you know what is almost exactly what it is within as it is on the out, only one layer to uncover? Sidestep, make way, here comes the banana. Andy Warhol didn’t have his love affair with this soft and sweet yellow fruit because it was complex or complicated, but because it was “mundane”: a symbol of the everyday man, a consumer staple, the quintessential pop of color in everyone’s kitchen, a fruit enjoyed by babies and baby boomers alike. 

The fruit that we’ve all gone bananas for arose from a tough, green fruit chock full of black seeds, genetically selected for and bred over centuries to become the edible one we know today. The banana has been a cornerstone of many cultures, like my own. Us Indians make use of every part of the banana: skin, leaves and all. We use the leaves as disposable plates, in formal and informal settings alike, we make curry with the peel, we even use its flowers, stems and sap as ayurvedic remedies for diabetes and countless other ailments. However, the banana didn’t make it big in the Western world until a scrappy 18-year old immigrant Samuel Zemurray got his hands on this yellow pot of gold in the mid-19th century. From then on, the banana was the star of the world’s stage, and it has been that way ever since. 

As of today, the banana has amassed a following demanding the production of over 100 billion a year, generating $8 billion, filling the bellies of millions of people worldwide. The different varieties mixed in more combinations than Fleetwood Mac, leading to today’s over 1000 breeds of banana. The reach of the Cavendish is the widest: the breed was designed to withstand overseas export and now constitutes the majority of the bananas exported to the U.S. and Europe. In other countries, many different breeds of banana are consumed regularly, but this is not the case in the States. 

America’s reliance on the Cavendish breed presents a horrifically prophetic vulnerability with the acceleration of the spread of the Tropical Race 4 strain, or Panama disease, which has been devastating banana populations for the past three decades. The disease reached the South American hub of production, Colombia, for this fruit in 2019, and we can expect a global shortage of bananas to occur within the next couple of years, unless something is done.

And so, the simplicity of the banana that we’ve come to love might just be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. The only solution? Diversify, diversify, diversify. Scientists like Dr. Fernando García-Bastidas are working to isolate genes in the banana that can withstand the Panama disease and, with this knowledge, change the way bananas are bred to keep them alive and thriving. 

One day, when we walk into grocery stores we will be greeted with the sight of a spectrum of bananas, perhaps forfeiting our favorite swatch of yellow, going slightly over-budget, but that is a price that I’m willing to pay. Are you?

While you ponder all that you have read here today, why not try the simple banana snack recipe below? Take your time, bite by bite, and appreciate that light, sweet and starchy flavor we’ve come to love, and hopefully is here to stay.


Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Slices

Yields: 2 servings

Time: 10 minutes prep + overnight (as frozen as you’d like)


  • 2 bananas
  • Smooth peanut butter (as much as desired)


  1. Cut both bananas into even circle slices.
  2. Place on a plate and spread a layer of peanut butter on top of each (the amount of peanut butter is up to you!).
  3. Place in the fridge overnight, take out and enjoy!

This recipe takes no time to prepare, and can be made in bulk and stored for future cravings. I highly recommend it frozen, but I have found just putting peanut butter on the banana slices to be equally delicious. Enjoy!