Adorable baby eat banana sitting on grass in park - Shutterstock Image
There’s a disturbing rumor making the rounds that the versatile banana, a food most parents count on as the perfect go-to fruit for their tots, may no longer be vegan-friendly. Scientists at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society recently had a nice big discussion about how a cool new spray-coating may save consumers from bananas becoming over-ripe before their time. The solution, spray bananas with a chemical coating of “hydrogel,” a superabsorbent material made from chitosan, which by the way, is a substance derived from shrimp and crab shells. Xihong Li, Ph.D., the main scientist presenting the idea, says that “Chitosan is attracting considerable attention in efforts to keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer due to its action in killing bacteria that cause produce to rot.” Science Daily calls it, “Good news for banana lovers” but we call it a big fat problem for vegans.
Li told Science Daily, “We found that by spraying green bananas with a chitosan aerogel, we can keep bananas fresh for up to 12 days. Such a coating could be used at home by consumers, in supermarkets or during shipment of bananas.” Fitness and nutrition expert JJ Virgin told Shape, “The banana wouldn’t necessarily become non-vegan—it depends on the person. Some vegans eschew any products that contain animal parts at all, including things like purses and shoes, and others don’t.” But since we know from years of pesticide use that chemicals DO permeate fruit and veggie peels, most vegans or raw vegans would need to peel all their bananas in order to still eat it. Virgin also points out that allergies could be a major issue, stating, “Someone who eats a banana every day—and many people do—could develop an allergy or a low-grade reaction to the shellfish where she or he didn’t originally have one.”
There is some good news. For one, this spray is not a reality yet. Secondly, if you buy organic, you’re likely in the clear as the National Organic Program (NOP) has zero organic certification for seafood products, meaning, a chemical containing fish could not, right now, be certified organic or used on certified organic fruit. If you don’t go organic, and you’re vegan or vegetarian and this comes to pass, you’ll have to find an alternative for all your favorite breads, popsicles, smoothies, cookies and other banana-loaded treats.