You will never, ever find a seed in a supermarket banana. That is because the fruit is grown, basically, by cloning…Every banana we eat is a genetic twin of every other.
It turns out, by the way, that the world’s supply of Cavendish bananas — the ones we eat — is endangered by disease (more here) and many experts believe the entire strain will vanish. Most other banana strains are much harder to cultivate and transport on a large scale, so enjoy your bananas while you can. The previous and supposedly tastier major strain of banana — Gros Michel — is already gone and had disappeared by the 1950s, again due to disease. Today, European opposition to GMO is one factor discouraging progress in developing a substitute and more robust banana crop.
I liked this bit:
"Uganda doesn’t endure famine, and to a great extent that is because of bananas," said Joseph Mukibi…
Most horrifying of all to Americans, the Indian banana is used as a substitute for tomatoes in ketchup.
I’ve grown tired of single topic foodstuff books, as they are now an overmined and overrated genre. But Dan Koeppel’s Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World is one of the best of its kind. It is a seamless integration of politics, economics, history, biology, and foodie wisdom. Here is one review of the book. Here is Dan’s one-post banana blog.