By Kelsey Casselbury 2017-03-01 22:03:31
Billions of animal and plant species that were once abundant on Earth have gone extinct over time. Each year, others are classified as critically endangered, ranging from the Black Rhino to the Georgia Aster. Some make a comeback, like the Bald Eagle and the American Bison. But you probably didn’t know about one extinction event within the last 75 years that had a foodservice impact: the extinction of the Gros Michel banana. Well, it wasn’t exactly a full-fledged extinction, but it did change the face of the banana industry, as this type of banana was nearly wiped out by a fungal disease in the mid-1900s. You might be tempted to shrug with indifference at this news, but considering the humble banana is the world’s most popular fruit, as well as a significant source of calories for many in the developing world, the near-disappearance of the Gros Michel banana—at the time the most-consumed variety—truly did make history. What’s more, it could happen again to today’s ubiquitous supermarket banana, the Cavendish. Banana Peanut Butter Muffins 3 cups Whole grain-rich flour 1 Tbsp. Baking powder 1⁄4 tsp. Salt 1 1⁄2 cups Granulated sugar 2⁄3 cup Peanut butter 3 ozs. Butter, softened 2 Bananas, mashed* 6 ozs. Milk, lowfat 2 Eggs 1 tsp. Vanilla extract 1⁄3 cup Raisins, seedless 1⁄3 cup Rolled oats SERVINGS 24 (2.3 ozs. baked weight) PER SERVING 200 cal., 7 g fat, 5 g pro., 33 g carb., 1 g fiber, 160 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 1-oz.-eq. whole grain rich 1) Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside. 2) Beat the sugar, peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. 3) Add the mashed bananas, milk, eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture is well-blended. 4) Add the flour mixture and the raisins to the banana batter and stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated. 5) Portion the batter into paper-lined or greased muffin tins, using a #16 scoop. 6) Sprinkle the oats evenly over the tops of each muffin. 7) Bake at 400°F for 18 minutes or until done. Cool on a wire rack. *Note: Frozen DOLE Chef-Ready Cuts Sliced Bananas can be used in this recipe Recipe and Nutritional Analysis: DOLE Foodservice, www.dolefoodservice.com Photo and Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com Kitchen Wisdom • We thought it was a good start, but found it to be a recipe that needed more work. The taste was pleasant, but the texture was tough and heavy. I can tell you that it tasted great dipped in the banana dip (see page 64) to kind of soften it up! • The size of the paper muffin cups is not noted; a 3-oz. cup would work for a 2-oz. muffin. • I am curious about the raisins. I’m not sure the majority of our student population would go for that. Obviously, they would love chocolate chips or strawberries instead! • I would change the cooking procedure to reflect how our baker cooks muffins. They turn out perfect and moist every time. Our process is to place in a 325˚F convection oven for 12 mins. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and then cook an additional 12 minutes. • I would cut the baking powder down by half, use shortening rather than butter, add 2 more ounces of peanut butter and increase the banana by 50%. • Our muffins were still wet after 18 minutes; it took 25 minutes total to cook. • The kids loved them warm, but they seemed to dry out overnight. They would be better as a same-day-of-service item. • Students should enjoy this recipe—everyone loves peanut butter and bananas. The World’s Most Popular Fruit To understand why the demise of the Gros Michel (and the potential demise of the Cavendish) is such a big deal, you first must realize just how popular the banana has become with consumers. More than 400 million people around the world rely on the calories a banana provides to survive. Thankfully, the Cavendish is nowhere near the only variety of banana available on the market; it’s just the one that we in the United States recognize most easily, and it does command a significant portion (nearly 50%) of the global banana production. Banana trees are able to produce fruit year-round, so in low-income regions, they provide food during “the hunger season,” the time of the year when one harvest of other staples has been eaten and the next is still to come. In fact, nearly nine-tenths of the world’s bananas are consumed in developing nations. In this country, though, per the 2007 book, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, by Dan Koeppel, Americans eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined. There are some good reasons for a banana’s popularity. For an estimated 100 calories, you also get: » vitamin B6, which triggers feel-good serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps stabilize your mood and makes you feel a little less stressed. Vitamin B9 (folate), also present in bananas, can help mitigate symptoms of depression. » a good quantity of glucose, potassium and magnesium, all of which contribute to a better workout! The glucose gives you an easily digestible source of sugar for energy, and the potassium and magnesium help ward off muscle cramps. Potassium also diminishes fluid retention, so it helps beat bloat and gas. » a naturally low amount of sodium, which means a banana can help lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke. » phytosterols, which are compounds that assist in lowering LDL cholesterol, considered the “bad” type. » fiber, probiotics and fructooligosaccharides, a very long word that refers to a cluster of fructose molecules. These all help digestion and improve healthy gut bacteria. The Clone Wars There’s one key facet of banana farming that led to the downfall of Gros Michel bananas, which is also a major problem for the Cavendish: Each banana is a clone of another one, making all bananas genetically identical. You see, domesticated bananas don’t really have seeds; those black specks inside the flesh don’t work to grow bananas. (Wild bananas, on the other hand, have large, hard seeds.) So, to produce bananas, you slice off a specific part of a banana tree, plant it and wait for it to sprout. For consistency purposes, this is awesome—all the fruit looks the same, they ripen at the same rate and the growers don’t have to worry about imperfections. On the other hand, when one organism has the exact same genes as another, it means all are equally susceptible to diseases that a more genetically diverse crop might be able to shake off. Go Bananas Orange Dip 50 Bananas, peeled 6 qts. Vanilla or plain yogurt, lowfat or nonfat 100 Oranges, peeled and sectioned SERVINGS 100 (4 ozs. fruit “dippers” and 3 ozs. dip) PER SERVING 170 cal., 1 g fat, 4 g pro., 40 g carb., 6 g fiber, 40 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN ¼-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, ¼ cup fruit (dip); ½ cup fruit (dippers) 1.) Place the bananas in a large blender or food processor. 2.) Add the yogurt to the bananas and blend on low speed until thoroughly mixed. 3.) Place the dip into individual 1⁄2-cup portions. Provide one full orange, in sections, as a serving.* *Notes: In place of oranges, fruit “dippers” could be apples, cantaloupe, grapes, kiwi slices, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon or melon. Portion as appropriate. The published meal pattern is based on a serving of one orange. If age-appropriate, fruit can be skewered and stuck into a piece of dense fruit as a base, such as a melon or pineapple. If using plain yogurt, add 2 Tbsps. honey per quart of yogurt. This dip can be used for catered events; place the dip in one large serving bowl and arrange the oranges onto a platter. Recipe, Nutritional and Meal Pattern Analysis: Fruit and Veggie Quantity Cookbook, NH Obesity Prevention Program, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Service, www.dhhs.nh.gov Kitchen Wisdom • The dip has a distinct banana flavor and nice color. Peeling and sectioning fresh oranges would take a long time, and because of the strong banana flavor, I think it would taste better served with a grain. • Watch the bananas to make sure they don’t turn black. • You can increase the amount of the yogurt by 1 cup. It still tastes great and increases the meat/meat alternate credit to 1⁄2 oz. • We had some dip left over and added orange juice to thin it—the next day, it made a delicious salad dressing! • If using oranges, it would be time consuming to peel and section them and expensive to purchase them pre-sectioned. Still, we think the kids would like it, because it’s something different than just a plain vanilla yogurt fruit dip. • I would serve it in a cup that features an insert and put whatever fruit “dipper” I was using in that insert. Tropical Spinach Salad Salad 25 cups Baby spinach 6 1⁄4 cups Red onions, sliced thin 6 1⁄4 cups Pineapple, diced and juice reserved 6 1⁄4 cups Bananas, sliced (approx. 12-13 bananas)* Dressing 3 Tbsps. Sesame oil 1 1⁄2 cups Sweet Thai chili sauce 1 1⁄4 cups Rice wine vinegar 3 Tbsps. Soy sauce 1) To make the dressing, combine the oil and sweet red chili sauce. Whisk in the vinegar and soy sauce, and set aside. 2) Place the ice water in a salad spinner fitted with an inner basket; add the sliced red onions and baby spinach and chill for 10 minutes. Drain the ice water, and use the salad spinner to spin the spinach and onions dry. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes. 3) Arrange 1 1⁄4 cup spinach and onions in individual salad bowls. Arrange 1⁄4 cup banana and 1⁄4 cup pineapple on top of the spinach. 4) Pour the reserved pineapple juice over the sliced bananas to help prevent them from turning brown. 5) Pre-portion 2 ozs. of dressing to serve with each salad. *Notes: Fresh Express Spinach, Chiquita Pineapple and Chiquita Bananas can be used in this recipe. This recipe has been modified to meet current federal meal pattern regulations. Recipe, Photo and Nutritional Information: Chiquita Bananas, www.chiquita.com Recipe Modification and Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com What’s a Plantain? Plantains may resemble bananas, but are they variations of the same fruit? A banana is the soft, sweet fruit that we know (also referred to as a “dessert” banana), while a plantain is the starchy, firm fruit. In some culinary circles, a plantain is any type of banana that’s cooked before eating, though a “true” plantain has a slightly different genome group. Creative Uses for Bananas Assuming that schools will be able to procure enough bananas for students to enjoy for a long, long time, consider trying out some creative uses for the fruit: » Healthy banana splits. Cut a banana in half lengthwise, and top it with vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt, nuts and additional cut fruit. » Single-ingredient banana ice cream. Slice bananas, layer them on parchment paper and freeze. Add the frozen banana slices to a food processor and blend, scraping down the sides as you go. Serve right away or store in the freezer. » Peanut butter and banana quesadillas. Kids go crazy over peanut butter and slices of bananas spread on a whole-wheat tortilla and then grilled. » Breakfast banana pops. Put a banana on a stick, roll it in Greek yogurt and granola and freeze. » Fabulous artwork. Use the banana to engage the students’ sight rather than only their taste buds. Sculpt the fruit into animals; a quick Pinterest search turns up ideas ranging from using the bananas as the long neck of a giraffe or dinosaur, a turtle’s flippers (with a waffle as the shell), a dolphin, a wiener dog and a snake (alternated with strawberry slices). » Positive messages. Since fresh bananas are a popular grab ‘n’ go item, you can write clever and affirming messages to students, telling them to have a great day, keep smiling, good luck on the test and so on. Although messages are written on an inedible part of the fruit, it’s still best to use a food-safe marker. » The school garden. Don’t throw away the banana peels; they’re primo for fertilizing tomato plants and make for quality compost. You can also cut up banana peels and bury them 1 to 2 inches deep in the soil to repel aphids. Gluten-Free Banana Breakfast Bar 1 cup Banana puree 1 Tbsp. Peanut butter, creamy 2 Eggs, large 2 cups Applesauce, unsweetened 1 lb., 8 ozs. Greek Yogurt, honey vanilla flavor* 1⁄3 cup Honey 1 Tbsp. Gluten-free vanilla extract 2 tsp. Ground cinnamon 1 Tbsp., 1 tsp. Gluten-free baking powder 7 cups Gluten-free old-fashioned oats SERVINGS 40 (2.5x2.5-in. bar) PER SERVING 100 cal., 1.5 g fat, 3 g pro., 17 g carb., 2 g fiber, 65 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 1-oz.-eq whole grain rich 1) Combine all the ingredients except the oats in a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Use a spatula to blend together. 2) Add oats slowly and mix until smooth. 3) Pour the batter into a greased half-sheet pan. 4) Bake in a 375°F oven for 28 to 33 minutes. In a convection oven, bake at 325°F for 18 to 23 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees after nine minutes of baking. 5. Cool and then slice into 2.5x2.5-in. portions and serve. *Note: Yoplait ParfaitPro Greek Honey Vanilla yogurt can be used in this recipe. Recipe, Photo and Nutritional Analysis: General Mills Convenience and Foodservice, www.Generalmillscfs.com Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com Kitchen Wisdom • It did not have a distinctive flavor. It’s one of those recipes where you say to yourself, “This needs something else.” I’d recommend experimenting with spices, a streusel topping, fruit or fruit puree, etc. • Make sure staff take the proper precautions and cross-contamination measures to ensure the integrity of keeping this item gluten-free. • It would be a nice breakfast alternative to pancakes or other gluten-free grain substitutions that, historically, have not been very appetizing. • I modified this recipe using half as much baking powder, tripling the honey and using sweetened applesauce in place of the unsweetened. The result, after the modifications, was much better. • Getting Greek Honey Vanilla yogurt on a bid can be a challenge, but plain Greek yogurt could be used, then just add more honey. Coco Banana Smoothie 6 1⁄4 gals. Milk, nonfatv 25 lbs. Greek yogurt, vanilla flavor* 50 Bananas, fresh 8 3⁄4 lbs. Blueberries, fresh or frozen 1⁄2 cup Cocoa powder, unsweetened SERVINGS 100 (17 ozs. per serving) PER SERVING 280 cal., 1 g fat, 18 g pro., 52 g carb., 4 g fiber, 135 mg. sod. MEAL PATTERN 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 8 fl. ozs. milk, 1⁄2 cup fruit 1) Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until the texture is smooth. 2) To serve, portion 17 ozs. into a serving cup. *Note: Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt–Vanilla can be used in this recipe. Photo, Recipe and Nutritional Analysis: Dannon Foodservice, www.dannonfoodservice.com Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com Just for Laughs At one point in the late 1800s, rogue banana peels were a legitimate danger on the streets—at least to the point that St. Louis passed an ordinance making it illegal to throw a banana peel on the ground. Comedian Cal Stewart incorporated the pratfall into his popular “Uncle Josh” routine around 1903. In 2009, though, the TV show “Mythbusters” claimed to have “busted” the contention that a human could easily lose footing on a single, misplaced banana peel. The Disappearing Fruit It was the cloning process that led growers, mostly located in Latin America, to produce bananas quickly and cheaply. Initially, bananas were available only to the upper class, who often needed directions about how to peel it. After cloning became a thing, though, around 1900, the lower cost and wider availability of the banana meant that Americans consumed some 15 million bunches of bananas. Within the next decade, that number grew to 40 million. So, it’s early in the 20th century and Gros Michel bananas are reigning as the favorite fruit of Americans. Farther south, though, danger lurks in the form of a fungus called Panama disease. It enters through the plant’s roots, the botanical equivalent of a robber breaking in through the basement windows to destroy your entire home, and disrupts the vascular system of the plant. The leaves turn yellow, they wilt and the plant dies from dehydration. The fungus spreads quickly through soil and water, hopping from country to country on a truck’s tire treads, a person’s shoe or other infected equipment. Even worse, it can live dormant in the soil for decades. By mid-century, 77 years after Panama disease was first discovered, it had essentially eliminated Gros Michel bananas from the Earth. Bananas 2.0 Now, everyone’s bellowing out the tune, “Yes, We Have No Bananas”— which, yes, is about the great banana disappearance when it first started affecting imports in the 1920s. Thank goodness, the industry had a backup banana: the Cavendish, which seemed to be immune to Panama disease. Sure, it wasn’t quite as flavorful as the Gros Michel, and some even called it “inferior,” but it filled the void. The industry is saved, right? Well, yeah, kind of. These days, Cavendish represent 99% of the market, and just like Gros Michels, the bananas are clones of one another. So, the 1993 discovery of Tropical Race 4 (TR4), a form of Panama disease, was unwelcome news. TR4 is a much stronger fungus able to kill the hardy Cavendish. It, too, can travel via tires and shoes, and it’s already destroyed cropland in Southeast Asia. The fungus has been found in Africa, but not yet in Latin America, where nearly all banana exports are grown. But, experts warn, TR4 will get there eventually— and then what will happen to our beloved banana and those who rely on them for sustenance? The Future of Bananas The good news is that technology is light years ahead of where it was when Panama disease wreaked havoc on Gros Michels. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) may be proven to help to develop TR4-resistant bananas, but this doesn’t seem to be at the top of the priority list when it comes to agricultural science, as researchers focus on other strategies for addressing world hunger. So, are bananas going extinct? Probably not anytime soon—TR4 is a slow-moving disease and scientists have been aware of it for years now. They are at risk, though, so all banana-lovers should take advantage of gobbling them up now and cross your fingers that this much-loved fruit won’t go the way of the dinosaur. Going Nuclear Due to its potassium content, which includes a small amount of the isotope potassium-40, bananas are slightly radioactive. Some scientists actually use the term “banana equivalent dose” to compare radiation levels and exposures. Eating one banana is equal to around 1% of the average daily exposure to radiation, and that’s around 100 banana equivalent doses. In comparison, a chest CT scan provides 70,000 banana equivalent doses. An Gorta Mór The banana isn’t the first piece of produce to be decimated due to its lack of genetic diversity. The Irish Potato Blight (or famine) occurred because Irish potato farmers in the 1800s preferred to grow just one type of potato and much of the rural population depended absolutely on potatoes for sustenance. As with bananas, a fungus in the 1840s destroyed potato crops. Unlike the banana situation, though, there wasn’t a sturdy backup potato that the farmers could plant instead. The result was the An Gorta Mór, or the Great Hunger, which led to the deaths of some 800,000 people. Kelsey Casselbury is a contributing editor for School Nutrition and a former managing editor of the publication. She is based in Odenton, Md.
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