Small bananas taste better

Frequently asked questions

What should I consider when buying a banana?
Are organic bananas always fair trade?
Are fair bananas always from organic production?
How do I recognize fair trade bananas?
Where can I buy fair trade organic bananas?
How heavily are bananas contaminated with pesticide residues?
Are there genetically modified bananas?
Is it true that bananas are always harvested when they are not ripe?
What about the bananas, which in many cities are always the same graffiti on the walls of houses?
What are Banana Republics?


What should I consider when buying a banana?
The color of the skin is the most important indicator for taste and shelf life. Bananas with green peel are not yet fully ripe. They are firm and only delicately sweet. In the presence of ripe apples, they can be stored in the fruit basket at home for a few more days and ripened. Completely yellow fruits are fully ripe and sweet. They should be eaten shortly. If brown spots appear on the peel, the bananas are very sweet - they contain 20% sugar and more. The typical banana aroma is very pronounced. Such bananas become soft quickly and shouldn't be left at home.


Are organic bananas always fair trade?
Unfortunately not. The organic cultivation of bananas is also a good alternative for banana farmers and plantations outside of fair trade. More and more people are converting and marketing their organically produced fruits in Europe, the USA and Japan. This significantly minimizes the health risks for the banana workers, but it is not yet fair trade. Freedom of trade unions, long-term employment contracts, fair minimum prices for the products, the prohibition of illegal child labor and occupational safety measures are not a natural part of organic farming. You can recognize organic bananas by the designation "organic" or "eco", the organic seal or the symbol of an ecological cultivation association such as Demeter or Naturland. Fair bananas also bear the TransFair seal or the BanaFair logo.


Are fair bananas always from organic production?
Today eleven of the 18 internationally registered fair trade projects in banana cultivation produce according to the guidelines of organic farming. It is to be expected that at some point it will always be fair and organic. Until then, there will also be fair bananas in other countries that have not been organically grown. However, the partners of BanaFair have already fully managed the conversion to organic cultivation. Even the bananas with the TransFair seal are currently all organic. You can recognize this when shopping by the label organic, the organic seal or the symbols of the ecological cultivation associations (Naturland and demeter).

In fair trade, the use of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers is limited to the lowest possible level in order to preserve people's natural livelihoods and protect their health. However, the complete conversion to organic farming takes a long time and costs a lot of money. It cannot therefore be taken for granted in all smallholder organizations that work under fair conditions. Since organic cultivation opens up new sales channels and is also rewarded with an additional price premium in fair trade, many cooperatives have decided to switch to organic cultivation or are on the way. They are supported by the buyers and certification organizations of fair trade.


How do I recognize fair trade bananas?
Fair trade bananas carry the TransFair seal. In and natural food stores you will also find fruits bearing the logo of the importer BanaFair. These are also from fair trade.


Where can I buy fair trade organic bananas?
You can find fair trade bananas in world shops, health food stores, natural food stores and the branches of Edeka Südwest (in the range of the organic own brand Bio-Wertkost), Kaiser′s Tengelmann (under the Naturkind brand), Walmart (under the Ökofrucht brand), Coop Kiel and Jackdaw Hit. Look out for the TransFair seal or the logo of the fair importer BanaFair.

You can tell that the fair fruits are also organic bananas by the designation organic or eco as well as the organic seal or the symbols of the ecological cultivation associations Naturland or Demeter. The partner organizations of BanaFair work according to ecological criteria and TransFair currently only seals organic bananas. The fruits with these symbols are really eco-fair. In the range of world shops you will also find sweet and savory banana chips as well as the fruit juice Batida del mundo, in which eco-fair banana puree is processed.


How heavily are bananas contaminated with pesticide residues?
Two thirds of the pesticides used in so-called developing countries are used in the cultivation of coffee, tea, sugar, cotton and tropical fruits such as the banana. All of these plants are intended for export to industrialized countries. They must therefore survive their long journey flawlessly and unspoiled. The plantations are treated many times a year from the air and on the ground with a wide variety of chemical pesticides. Most of these substances remain in the cultivation regions: in the soil and water but also on surrounding plantations. Environmental and health damage remains in the countries that export bananas.

The pesticides to which bananas are exposed mainly have an external effect. They are sprayed on the plants or directly on the fruit heads. The thick skin of the fruit absorbs most of it. Therefore, the pulp of the yellow fruits is usually only slightly contaminated with residues. However, it is advisable to be careful when peeling the fruit. Avoid touching the skin and the pulp one at a time. When preparing fruit salad and the like, it is advisable to wash your hands between peeling and further processing.

Organic bananas are not treated with conventional pesticides at all, so there is no residue on the skin or in the pulp. They are therefore the healthier alternative - also for the banana workers in the countries of origin.


Are there genetically modified bananas?
So far there are no genetically modified bananas. However, intensive research is being carried out on it. Of the more than 1,000 banana varieties, the Cavendish in particular is traded internationally. It is the standard banana. It shapes our idea of ​​what bananas should look and taste like. For decades it has been increased by raising the saplings of the mother plant. With this form of reproduction there is no exchange of genes, so that the plants are all genetically the same and susceptible to disease. The widespread cultivation in large monocultures does the rest - in such species-poor areas pathogens multiply very quickly. For a long time this problem was countered with ever new and stronger pesticides, which had fatal consequences for people and the environment. Breeding attempts to breed resistant bananas by crossing different varieties also changed the appearance and taste of the fruits - but the trade rejects this on behalf of consumers. For some time now, there has been intensive research into ways of equipping the plant with resistance to certain pathogens through genetic modifications. Research is also being carried out into genetic changes that delay the ripening of the fruit. A third large field are the so-called vaccinated bananas: Scientists hope that through genetic modifications, certain vaccines will at some point be created directly in the banana. Since the fruits are a staple food in many countries and are also eaten by children, the researchers hope that people will be better protected. Research is carried out on bananas against hepatitis B, jaundice, cholera, polio, measles and diarrhea, among other things.

So far there have been four attempts to release banana varieties that were supposed to be fungus-resistant in Mexico and Costa Rica. However, all changes are still a long way from being approved for the market. You can find more information on genetic engineering in food at http://www.transgen.de/.


Is it true that bananas are always harvested when they are not ripe?
Yes. The fruits only develop their characteristic sweetness and aroma when they are separated from the plant. If they stay on the fruit cluster, less sugar will form and the bananas will burst and spoil. For this reason, the fruits are harvested green both for consumption in the countries of origin and for export. Since ripening sets in quickly after the fruit cluster has been separated from the plant, export fruits are packed very quickly in refrigerated ships. Here the ripening process is stopped by temperatures of 13.3 ° C and good ventilation. Only in the ripening warehouses in the country of destination will the temperatures be optimal, so that the bananas will be yellow and sweet on the market.


What about the bananas, which in many cities are always the same graffiti on the walls of houses?
Attentive strollers will discover the famous banana graffiti, for example in Cologne, Berlin, Stuttgart, Krefeld, Zurich or Düsseldorf. As different as the cities may be, the many bananas all have something in common. They decorate the entrance areas of places where art is shown or made, such as galleries, museums or art associations. Behind this is Thomas Baumgärtel, who as a painter, sprayer and action artist has been awarding the banana as a quality feature since 1986. For him, the banana is the symbol of a distorted, not entirely clear - crooked - perception, with which he marks places where, from his point of view, something special and new is happening with art. Initially, the bananas were considered property damage and there were criminal charges because of the graffiti. Gradually, however, the small, sprayed picture became a coveted award.


What are Banana Republics?
The winged word is used in connection with small states that are very little dependent on exports, mostly agricultural raw materials and on foreign capital, and in which foreign companies are openly and decisively involved in government policy. This name actually has its origin in the historical and current structure of the banana trade. As early as the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the large, internationally active fruit trading companies bought huge areas in Latin America in order to plant banana plantations. The companies not only owned large parts of the national territory of these countries. They also built the infrastructure for the marketing of the fruit and laid rails and telephone lines, they owned ports and railway lines. Their economic power in these countries was so great that they actively and openly co-determined their politics. Even if Dole, Chiquita, Del Monte and Fyffes no longer have their own banana plantations in all states, they still have enormous economic power in the countries that live on banana exports. Many government decisions are therefore directly or indirectly in the interests of the fruit trading groups. As in the banana trade, there are dependencies in other countries for other raw materials and have similar economic and political consequences. Therefore, the term banana republic is no longer restricted to the banana-exporting states.