Organic Bananas vs. Regular Bananas: Which is Better?

When discussing bananas one of the common questions is, are organic bananas better than regular bananas?

Organic bananas are better than regular bananas because of the lack of pesticides and harmful chemicals. In addition, organic bananas retain a higher level of nutrients, like antioxidants. However, regular bananas represent an excellent alternative because they’re affordable, nutritious and are not on the most harmful non-organic fruit list.

In the following article, we will discuss which areas organic bananas are better and in which areas they are not. We will look at the “Dirty Dozen” of the fruit and vegetable world, and learn why you may not want to buy organic bananas.

The Difference Between Regular and Organic Bananas

organic bananas and regular bananas.
Organic and regular bananas

As a Certified Health Coach many clients ask me about food comparisons including bananas. Also, I purchase and consume them every day. Therefore, I have researched this topic in the past and present. Let’s examine the two types closely.

Some people have found that organic bananas bruise easier and are more susceptible to damage. Others have found that their organic bananas taste better, and there is a science to back that up1.

National Geographic reported in 2014 that organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants, which they develop to help protect themselves against natural dangers2.

And, according to the article, “higher antioxidant levels affect food’s organoleptic qualities—taste, aroma, and mouthfeel—and how the human senses detect a food’s unique flavor.”

The Benefits of Shopping Organic

There are some amazing benefits to shopping organic3. If you do choose to buy organic bananas, you could experience these potential benefits:

  • More nutrients. Some organic products have been found to have higher levels of nutrients. This includes flavonoids, which contain healthy antioxidants4.
  • Avoid pesticide residue by shopping for organic bananas. Pesticides are chemical products designed to kill living things like bugs and pests; ingesting them is potentially dangerous for humans.
  • Save farmers from harmful chemicals when you buy organic produce. Not only do regular bananas get covered with harmful pesticides, but so do the farmers who grow them.

The Benefits of Shopping Regular Bananas

Organic foods have a reputation for being good for you, but there are certain perks to buying regular bananas instead.

You Can Save Money

Organic food is more expensive than regular versions of the same things. If you choose to buy non-organic products, you will save money. This is one of the main factors for people on a budget when shopping for bananas.

It is hard to justify spending extra money on something like fruit when you need to save for rent.

Regular Bananas Have a Higher Product Consistency

Non-organic products are more consistent in their quality and form. You will have bananas that look better if you buy regular ones. They also may have fewer blemishes and be more durable to transport and drop.

Regular Bananas Are More Ripe When Bought

Bananas naturally release ethylene gas, and that’s what causes them to ripen5. Regular bananas are sprayed with synthetically made ethylene gas before being put on the shelves6

Organic bananas are not treated this way, so often, organic bananas are unripe when purchased. People who buy organic bananas need to either wait for their bananas to ripen or try tricks to encourage the bananas to change.

Regular bananas are more ready to be enjoyed as soon as they are purchased. By the way, ethylene gas is why other fruits, like avocados can or shouldn’t be stored with other fruit. You can learn more about that in my blog lost by clicking here, Can You Store Avocados and Oranges Together?

A woman buying bananas in the store.
Buying bananas

What Is the “Dirty Dozen”?

You may have heard about the “Dirty Dozen” when reading about organic foods. But what is it? The Dirty Dozen is a list released by the EWG, the Environmental Working Group, that includes the 12 most damaging non-organic fruits and vegetables7.

These produce items contain the highest amounts of pesticides and chemicals of the 42 most popular kinds of produce.

The study is performed annually, and each year the Environmental Working Group releases a new list called the Dirty Dozen. EWG also releases an annual report8 on the top produce items that are grown conventionally that they call the “Clean Fifteen.”

Many people would base which organic foods they buy on this report. The idea is, if you are going only to buy a few organic products, they should replace the produce items on the Dirty Dozen list. That way, you are making the most of your money by avoiding the worst non-organics foods while saving money on the not-so-bad ones.

Bananas have never been included on the Dirty Dozen list. This is in part thanks to their thick peels, which help prevent some of the pesticides from entering the fruit under the skin.

Most of the items on the Dirty Dozen list are thin-skinned products that have little to no protection from chemicals.

bananas in a farm.

What Makes a Banana Organic

To truly understand this topic, we need to see what makes a banana organic. Usually, bananas are grown in large crops that are not rotated9. This lack of rotation means the crops are susceptible to fungal infections and invasive pests.

Regular bananas are sprayed heavily with pesticides and chemicals to kill these insects and keep fungus at bay.

Organic bananas are grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals. The fruit of organic farms is at risk of being destroyed by pests and fungus as well, so farmers need to employ other tactics to ensure that their fruit is protected.

Organic farmers use strategies that include crop rotation, which means planting bananas in a different area each year to allow the soil used to regain nutrients and battle infections10.

They also use bug traps and deterrents like sticky paper and pheromones11 (scents that deter insects.) This allows farmers to make the most of their crops while still remaining organic.

The Cost of Growing Organic

Organic foods are more expensive for the following reasons:

  • Growing organic is more labor-intensive.
  • The farms require more space to rotate the crops properly, and the price needs to compensate for the high amount of lost product that naturally happens with organic farming. 
  • Because organic crops do not have the protection of pesticides and chemicals, more of the product is lost to pests and infections.

Are Organic Farms Better for the Environment?

It is generally thought that organic farming is better for the environment, and in part, this is true. The chemicals that are used to kill the pests seep into the soil and affect flora and fauna of the surrounding areas.

Exposure to pesticides12 can create a host of dangerous illnesses in many types of animals, including:

  • Cancer
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Organ damage
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Reproductive failure

At this point, it seems clear that organic bananas are better for the environment, but the difficulty of producing a profitable crop means that farmers need more land to extend their potential earnings. 

These larger land areas are used to produce fewer bananas than regular farming. In turn, the numbers show that while organic farming may have a better environmental impact per crop, it has a worse environmental impact per banana produced13.

Did you know bananas are a good replacement for electrolytes? Find out more in my article, 17 Gatorade Substitutes.

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

Read Next – More Food vs. Food!

Organic Lentils vs. Conventional Lentils: Which is Better?

Is Organic Chicken Free Range?

Free-Range Chicken vs. Grain-Fed Chicken: Which is Better?

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of organic food consumption on human health; the jury is still out! []
  2. National Geographic: Organic Foods are Tastier and Healthier []
  3. USDA: Organic Agriculture []
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer []
  5. Chicago Tribune: How to Ripen Organic Bananas []
  6. National Geographic: The Surprising Science Behind the World’s Most Popular Fruit []
  7. EWG: Dirty Dozen: EWG’s 2020 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce []
  8. EWG: Clean Fifteen: EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce []
  9. EWG: Banana Cultivation Is Pesticide-Intensive []
  10. Rodale Institute: Pest Management: What is organic pest management? []
  11. Wikipedia: Pheromone []
  12. Beyond Pesticides: Impacts of Pesticides on Wildlife []
  13. ScienceDirect: Does organic farming reduce environmental impacts? – A meta-analysis of European research []

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