Rainforest Alliance . Track it Back . Bananas
Where do bananas come from?
You probably know that bananas are popular lunch items at your school, but did you know that they are the number one fruit all over the world? Over 55 million tons of bananas are eaten worldwide each year! Bananas grow in humid, tropical regions of the world. They thrive in Honduras, as well as in other Central and South American rainforests and in Africa and Southeast Asia. They require very warm climates and need lots of water. They grow best where it rains a lot. The word "banana" comes from the Arabic word for "finger." Bananas got this name because they resemble fingers that grow together in long rows, which are called "hands."

The banana plant
Although banana plants grow as tall as trees, they are not actually trees. They are giant herbs, related to the lily and orchid families. Bananas need a lot of water, but they don't like having their "feet" wet. That's why they are grown in fields that look like corrugated cardboard, with the plants growing on the tops of the ridges. The farmers can fill the trenches with water, but then drain them after the plants have had a good long drink.

Although there are about 400 different types of bananas, most of the bananas we eat in the United States are just one type - the Cavendish banana. This banana is a sweet dessert banana and is generally eaten raw or mixed into a recipe. Other types of bananas must be cooked to be edible, and people over the world bake, roast, barbecue, or fry them. In addition to food, banana plants also provide materials for many other uses. The plant fiber makes a very strong paper that is used in tea bags and paper money. People also use banana leaves for making umbrellas, for roofing material, for wrapping food during cooking, and for making trays, plates, baskets and carpets.