Within a generation the banana may disappear from American homes. Certainly they will get more expensive -- something that is already happening.
Dan Koeppel, author of the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, writes in today's New York Times about a disease that once wiped out the variety of banana that our grandparents ate and is now turning its sights on the Cavendish, the type of banana that we are all familiar with.
In the piece Koeppel notes that the banana is the most popular fruit in America and has generally sold for half the price of apples despite the fact that it comes from thousands of miles away while apples are grown much closer to markets. In addition, apples can keep for months while bananas bruise easily and don't last for more than two weeks.
Despite their being more than a thousand varieties of banana, most Americans only know the Cavendish, which apparently does not taste nearly as good as the varietal that was wiped out in the 1960s by Panama disease. Will Chiquita -- formerly called United Fruit, a US conglomerate that used violence against workers and overthrew governments to keep its business flowing smoothly -- diversify its banana crops in Latin America or are bananas on their way to becoming "an exotic tropical fruit" that most of us can no longer afford.