Banana Split

Banana Split with ice cream and blueberries
Banana Split with ice cream and Blueberries. © Karen Netto (Andrews)

The British Ecological Society’s magazine, The Niche, arrived through the letter box in December. The front cover referred to Bananageddon. Is the world’s favourite fruit under threat? Bananas have always seemed to be a staple diet in our family. We have probably eaten more than our fair share of the 5 billion Bananas sold in the UK every year. It is hard to imagine a future without them.

Simple Dessert

A Banana is a handy fruit to change into a quick and eye-catching dessert for children who can’t eat or don’t like much of the gluten-and dairy-rich Christmas fare. A Banana Split can easily accommodate different diets. Ice cream for one, sorbet or coconut ice cream for another. Use colourful fruit and marshmallows to decorate and no-one feels left out.

Banana Smoothies

Banana-based smoothies are another popular option. In a strange twist, my elder son has ended up working for a certain well-known smoothie company. Evidently, that’s where healthy eating can take you.


Having coped with various restricted diets for years, it is alarming to read that only one Banana variety is found in Britain today: the Cavendish. There were once thousands of varieties worldwide. Commercialisation has narrowed the genetic resources available. This leaves Bananas vulnerable to pest and diseases. The Panama Disease is a major concern. The Cavendish is no longer immune to the fungal disease. It harmed the world’s previous favourite variety: Gros Michel.

Bunch of bananas
Bananas sold in the UK are usually the Cavendish variety (Musa acuminata, Musaceae)
© Karen Netto (Andrews)


I always like to look out for the Fairtrade label on Bananas when I’m shopping. Apparently, one in 3 sold in the UK is a Fairtrade Banana. A number of the major UK supermarkets only stock Fairtrade Bananas. Most Bananas sold in the UK are Cavendish Bananas from South American countries, whose populations are heavily dependent on the crop for their livelihoods.

Cavendish Bananas are sterile and depend on cloning for propagation
© Karen Netto (Andrews)

As you tuck into your Banana this Christmas, spare a thought for the potential split ahead.

© Karen Netto (Andrews)


Randall, Susan (2015): Healthy Breakfast Banana Split. Simple Healthy Kitchen. 29 July 2015. Last accessed 22 December 2019.

References and Further Reading

Frost, Natascha (2018): A Quest for the Gros Michel, the Great Banana of Yesteryear. Gastro Obscura. 28 February 2018. Last accessed 22 December 2019.

Middleton, Sara (2019): BANANAS! Peeling back the History, Biology and Future of the World’s Favourite Fruit. The Niche. British Ecological Society Magazine. December 2019. Cover Story (pp. 26-31).

Nicholson, Heather (2019): Top 12 Facts about Fairtrade Bananas. 23 August 2018. Fairtrade Foundation. Last accessed 22 December 2019.

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