Read the full story in Forbes.
Bananas are the second most common tropical fruit consumed globally, with approximately 119.83 million tons produced worldwide, comprising 16% of world fruit production. But with a lot of consumption comes a lot of waste. Most of the waste produced from banana consumption comes from the peel, which makes up 30% to 40% of the weight, resulting in approximately 3.5 million tons of banana peel waste per year. Banana peel waste contains carbon-rich organic compounds that can take up to two years to decompose and biodegrade, creating odor and producing excessive emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) that contribute to climate change.
One of the reasons that bananas produce so much waste is due to the misconception that their peels are inedible and not useful. Banana peels are in fact delicious when prepared correctly, and even more importantly, they are healthy with a great deal of potential to be used as functional ingredients in food products.
The banana peel is rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, essential amino acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants and potassium. It is a good source of certain biogenic amines (catecholamines) including dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which is crucial for mental health, nervous system functioning and blood pressure control. Banana peels also have antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-mutagenic, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor and anti-ulcerogenic properties.
Keeping peels to consume as food, not only cuts down on waste and reduces GHG emissions but also increases the nutrient density of the entire fruit.
And people are catching on. According to food and beverage analytics company, Spoonshot, google searches for the term ‘peel as food’ have experienced significant growth in the last few years, with the number of hits tripling since 2015.