Bananas are a near-perfect fruit. Covered in a fibrous, yellow peel, the joy of the banana is that you can take it anywhere because the peel is nature’s Tupperware, shielding it from the dirty, outside world. The only inconvenient thing about eating a banana is that, unless you plan to carefully place it in the path of your enemy, you have to find a place to throw away the peel when you’re done.
Those dark days may soon be over. Japanese scientists announced on Monday that they’ve developed a new type of banana with an edible peel called the Mongee banana. Created with a “freeze-thaw awakening” technique developed by Setsuzo Tanaka, the technical development manager at D&T farm, this fruit is much sweeter than other bananas and has a peel that Tanaka claims is 100% edible. Japanese journalists who have tasted the banana say the peel itself is “very thin” and is “fairly easy to eat.”
While the typically banana is grown in tropical temperatures, Mongee banana trees are first planted in an environment kept at negative 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, the trees are thawed and replanted in an 80-degree environment. This rapid change of temperature puts the banana trees into a state of rapid growth, which, in turn, results in small bananas without fully mature peels.
For some of you, this news may force you to consider an uncomfortable question: Haven’t we always been able to eat banana peels? The short answer is yes. While it’s not common in the West, banana peels are eaten in other parts of the world. The catch is that they typically aren’t eaten raw, like you’re supposed to do with a Mongee banana. Boiled, fried, or thrown in a smoothie, consuming the peel is a decent way to access the peel’s stores of potassium, protein, and the vitamins B6 and B12. Eating a banana peel straight from the grocery store also means that you’re putting yourself at risk of encountering the pesticides that may have accumulated on the surface.
It remains to seen whether the Mongee banana will really take off: It’s a pricey piece of fruit, but bananas are the most consumed fruit in Japan and the United States. Two fungi, one called fusairum and the other known as Panama disease, have also been devastating populations of tropically grown banana trees — meaning that in our dystopic future, little bananas grown in labs may end up being the best that we’ve got.