by Alex Abella
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The origin of the banana, probably in Malaysia predates written language. Spaniards transported the first banana root to the New World in 1516 in the hands of a missionary. The banana is low in fat and calories, high in carbohydrate, and used in many diets for newborns, geriatrics, diabetics, and overweights.
It has vitamins (C and B6) and minerals (calcium, niacin, iron, phosphorus and lots of potassium) and comes prepacked by nature. The banana appeared in art as long as 5000 years ago, in bas-relief and fresco. It has been immortalized in song, poem, book, movie, paper currency and poster. The banana plant is an herb which can grow to 40 feet; some varieties grow as much as 8 inches in 24 hours.
The fruit is borne in bunches which grow upward from the pseudo stem, and the fruit is not really a fruit but a berry! The banana is related to the palm, lily and orchid. Every aspect of the banana is interesting: its use as a tan shoe polish; creation of the first banana daiquiri; its cultivation; its political impact; its economic importance; and its culinary versatility.