Here are a couple from all the way back in 2011, for example: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/10/we-have-no-ban... http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/30953/...
James Dale's publicist is certainly earning their pay...
maybe LA shoppers are just lucky, but i've seen plentiful alternative varieties in grocery stores here, including "Cuban/Jamaican Red", "Thai" (a little bit like Hawaii's "Ice Cream Banana"), and "Burro." they usually taste better than the Cavendish. and, on sale, you can get 3 pounds for a dollar.
i occasionally see fruit-bearing banana plants growing in Los Angeles itself. i've tried some of these and they also taste better than the Cavendish.
They look very similar (very much like 3rd from the left in https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Bananava...) when peeled (apart from size - they're generally 1/2 or 1/3 the length of an average Cavendish and a little fatter, relative to length) but they're much 'juicier' and probably a little sweeter too.
The taste itself isn't enough to put me off (see above about smoothies) but the texture is unbearable, it's like an over-ripe Cavendish.
Edit: for some growing-bananas-in-thailand trivia:
Here at least, the little horrible ones grow a lot faster and are much more durable than Cavendish. The tallest Cavendish plant we've had so far is maybe 2.5m tall - I can always grab the bunch when cutting them, and generally I can carry the bunch one handed.
The "Thai" ones are giant plants by comparison - usually 4-5M when they produce, and the biggest bunches I can't carry at all.
Then you have the giant Thai ones (the name translates as "Elephant banana") - the plant is as big as the regular Thai ones, but slower to produce fruit. The fruit itself are like a Cavendish on steroids - easily 2x the size, but horrible to eat, not even any good for smoothies. Even my in-laws don't know anyone who actually eats these ones.
Then there's the even tinier Thai ones (the name translates as "Egg banana") which have a quite short, but very leafy plant (maybe 2-2.5M tall at most) with lots of offshoots. The fruit itself are tiny - most plants here the bunch never drops down to 'hang' because it's not heavy enough, and the bananas are, as the name suggests, comparable in size to a large chicken or duck egg, and almost egg shaped too.
Thus concludes my tale.
Not much I could do in the face of bureaucracy, official forms and red ID badges, so I let them go ahead. I'll never forget when they finished, he poked his head in the door again to say "We've destroyed the plants and salted the earth to prevent them coming back". The only other time I had seen the phrase 'salted the earth' was when I read stories of Genghis Khan wiping out entire villages and salting the earth for miles around so that any survivors couldn't plant crops to survive!
Probably a bit much to compare a Banana Freckle Inspector to someone who reputedly conquered the world in ancient times, but I bet the power went to his head more than once. :)
A year later, I got a call from a much nicer chap who offered government assistance to plant some new (non infected) banana trees in my yard, but that also required a slew of government forms and waiting period, so I never went ahead.
The banana cultivar complex is massive, and full ofninteresting varieties. In certain parts of Oceania and the South Pacific there is a banana called the Fe'i which is used in stews or cooked in coconut milk as a dessert. Ive tried these and also apple bananas and ladyfinger bananas. I'd love to try red daccas, ice-cream bananas and all the others.
"Plantain" is almost as bad a descriptor as "banana" AFAICT with dozens of cultivars, mainly concentrated in East Africa, but also in parts of Asia and Central America.
I find the whole thing fascinating. While I enjoy a Cavendish now and then, I do wish we wouldn't standardise quite so much. But then we have industrial-scale production to think about.
'"Another danger of a more homogeneous global food basket is that it makes agriculture more vulnerable to major threats like drought, insect pests and diseases, which are likely to become worse in many parts of the world as a result of climate change." As the global population rises and the pressure increases on our global food system, so does our dependence on the global crops and production system that feeds us.'
* "Crop diversity decline 'threatens food security'. BBC news" http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26382067
* "REPORT on plant breeding: what options to increase quality and yields? Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT" http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//...
* "Increasing homogeneity in global food supplies and the implications for food security" http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1313490111
Plantation forestry consists of genetically identical trees grown for miles and miles. Not only would the economic effects of an introduced fungus be bad, but the ecological effects of having entire forests die off could be disastrous.
Also, I think banana flavor candy is gross so I think I will pass on trying Gros Michel.
Tropical Wholefoods (http://www.tropicalwholefoods.com) sell packets of dried ones in the UK.
I wonder what the next popular banana clone will be?
It’s all rather disgraceful. :/
I haven’t eaten a Cavendish variety yet. We call those plantains in our part of the world and use it for cooking, as a morning breakfast steamed, as a fruit, as well as deep fried snacks.
India is the world's largest producer of Cavendish bananas, but they are grown in the Americas too, and according to this report http://www.fao.org/docrep/007/y5102e/y5102e04.htm Cavendish is the largest produced type worldwide.
Entirely anecdotal, but I've traveled a great deal. The cavendish cultivar seems to be the most common across the globe but I'd not be surprised to find out that it is more a plurality than a true majority.
There are quite a few different types of banana, despite the claims if Western media, so it may be that this particular cultivar is the most popular while only being something like 35% of the total market.
Either way, there are lots of different cultivars and some of them are more appealing, to me, than the cavendish. I don't know the real name, but there is a red banana that I ate in Peru. It was not that large but tasty. They don't sell it anywhere near where I live.