Setting the record straight about bananas

Third generation, organic banana grower Lance Powell of Mt Chowan Organics.

Story & photo Kate O’Neill

Australia’s best tasting bananas are grown right here on the North Coast, but you’re unlikely to find them on the big supermarket’s shelves.

Third generation Burringbar banana grower, Lance Powell, says despite their beautiful flavour, local bananas don’t have ‘the look’ supermarkets insist on, and are rejected in favour of bigger and ‘better looking’ bananas grown further north.

‘They demand a really big banana with no skin blemish. Everything’s got be squeaky clean,’ says Lance. ‘Producing such fruit is almost impossible in our climate – the cold winter slows the bananas down and gives them a duller appearance than those grown in places like North Queensland, and without the heavy use of chemicals, skin will almost always be slightly blemished.’

Ironically though, Lance says it is these locally grown ‘rejects’ that taste the best. ‘They don’t have the appearance, but you have that beautiful intensity of flavour. The smaller cavs (cavendish) are almost like lollies, they’re so sweet.’

Lance converted to organics and started selling direct to the public and without the middleman, Lance has finally been able to get a decent price for his produce, including his small and slightly blemished – but great tasting fruit.

‘When you come face-to-face with your customers, you realise it’s the supermarkets that want the big, ‘perfect’ bananas, not the customers. People are conditioned – when they go to the supermarket and everything’s perfect, they come to expect that – but it’s not like that in the natural world.’

Lance says people who regularly visit farmers markets. regularly soon come to realise that appearance doesn’t always equal flavour. ‘In my book, you buy fruit for flavour.’

Find Mt Chowan Organics at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday. Lance also sells organic paw paw and other organic fruit and veg in season.

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