www.whyville.net Jan 18, 2009 Weekly Issue

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, grab your pets, grab your friends, grab your grandma and grandpa! Get on your feet, dim the lights and pop in some cheesy game show music because you're the next contestant on: BANARAMA!

That's right, you have a chance today to learn about the most amazing, tasty, delicious and nutritious (not to mention portable!) snack in the entire world: the banana! This fruit is a golden ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day, and so I hope you will share in my enthusiasm to learn about this most magnificent morsel!

Now, I'm sure you see bananas every week at the grocery store, but why should you actually buy those bananas and gobble them down? Well, personally I have no problem eating all the bananas in sight because I think they're the most gosh darn delicious thing known to mankind. However, bananas are also very healthy -- something you might not know about bananas is they are just jam-packed with potassium!

*sound of crickets chirping in the background*

Okay guys, I know you might not share my enthusiasm for bananas but at least give me a chance to tell you about their awesomesauce! Where was I? Oh right -- potassium! Bananas are practically bursting at the seams with potassium which is important in the maintenance of your nervous and circulatory systems. Even if you're not worried about your ol' ticker and the blood she's pumping, bananas are also loaded with other good stuff -- including Vitamins A and C and many of the B vitamins to help keep your body working in tip top shape. It has even been used to combat everything from stress and heartburn, to depression and anemia which basically makes it a top notch super hero.

So where did such a magical fruit come from? The first mention of bananas date back more than 2500 years to Buddhist writings, but some people say that the banana was actually first "discovered" by Alexander the Great and his armies when they invaded India in 327 B.C. Alexander the Great might have been on to something -- his armies carried bananas back to the Mediterranean, sparking a global diffusion process that spanned several centuries and is responsible for the availability of bananas in even the most far reaching corners of the globe today. I kind of wish I could thank him.

Today, there are over 100 different kinds of bananas, but I'd like to draw your attention to one particular variety -- the Cavendish. Now, you'll have to excuse me while I grab some tissues because I'm about to tell you about something potentially tragic affecting the global supply of bananas and it might make me tear up. You see, Cavendish bananas are the most common bananas in the world . . . if you're thinking about bananas in the grocery store it's almost guaranteed that you are thinking about Cavendish bananas. All of these bananas are genetic clones of each other which is a bit of a problem, because it means that none of the bananas are able to resist their arch nemesis, also known as Panama Disease which is currently wiping out the world's banana supply.

Will the world's supply of bananas be wiped out entirely? It's hard to say because in the 1950s the world was facing a similar banana crisis and we've still got bananas today, haven't we? In fact, this is exactly how the Cavendish variety of bananas came into existence . . . it replaced the "Big Mike" bananas that were common in the 1950s. Can scientists create another type of banana that is similar is taste and resistant to Panama disease? Only time will tell.

Now, I could go on and on about bananas, but there's just one more thing I'd like to address and I'm sure you've all seen it in a cartoon: the slippery banana peel . . . fact or fiction? If you google this gag you'll find several anecdotes of people who have actually slipped of banana peels, and one website even quotes a statistic of "300 banana-related accidents" in the UK in 2001 - so I'm going to chalk this one up to fact. Although fresh banana peels that have been discarded are not usually a hazard, it is the rotting peels that you need to watch out for because they are the slippery ones. Keep your eyes "peeled" and you should be safe!

Now I'm off to join the chimps and eat my daily banana in all its yellowy perfection. And whether you're enjoying a banana split, a banana cream pie or just a plain old plantain, I hope I'll see you on the next episode of: BANANARAMA!

Bananas in Pajamas.

Author's Note: Sources
National Geographic -- November 2008

Editor's Note: Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a severe charley horse in your calf or thigh? I know I have, and they are extremely painful. The best way to prevent a charley horse is to have a banana. A charley horse is usually caused by a lack of potassium, and as Giggler01 pointed out . . . banana's are loaded with potassium. Just a helpful hint my dad taught me!


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