Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am what I eat

Me and some plantains, Portoviejo, Ecuador.
From the Hall of Human Origins, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC.
Ecuador is one of the top producers of bananas and the largest exporter of this fruit*.  Plantain (which, like banana, is a domesticated and sterile hybrid of two species of plants from the genus Musa) is a prevalent staple in the cuisine of the Ecuadorian coastal region, eaten green or ripe, fried, baked, in soups, with ceviche, eaten with breakfast, lunch or dinner.  The wild ancestors of these fruits contain seeds, and like many inter-species hybrids, bananas and plantains are sterile, and in this case seedless, which is a desirable trait for an edible fruit.  How are they propagated then, with no seeds?  Bananas and plantains must be reproduced from cuttings of the underground stem. Since there is no sexual reproduction involved, there is very little genetic diversity among banana cultivars, and thus there is concern that this important crop plant can become vulnerable to disease and it would be difficult to generate resistant clones.  Efforts are underway to increase the genetic diversity of bananas and plantains to make this a stable food source for consumers and source of income for farmers.

*Ecuador also produced me, a long time ago.

1 comment:

  1. Two thumbs up to Ecuador for producing such wonderful products.