How to pick a bunch with a lighter environmental impact.

How to pick a bunch with a lighter environmental impact. Watch us make healthy banana bread

Bananas are by far America's favorite fruit. Annually, we each eat about 10 pounds. Sweet, healthy and relatively inexpensive, what's not to love about this yellow-jacketed fruit?

Most bananas sold in the United States are grown in Latin America, where banana plantations are notorious for spraying a slew of toxic chemicals, affecting both workers and wildlife. A recent study, for example, found that crocodiles living downstream from plantations had higher concentrations of pesticides in their blood and were in worse health compared to those in more remote areas.

In sharp contrast is the 800-acre banana plantation operated by EARTH University in Costa Rica. Its trees are buffered by rain forest harboring tropical wildlife like monkeys and toucans that naturally reduce pests. Like conventional growers, EARTH covers banana bunches at this plantation with with bags to repel insects. But instead of pesticides, the bags are filled with a chile pepper and garlic mix.

To purchase sustainably grown bananas, look for one of these labels: Turbana, Equal Exchange, Rainforest Alliance, EARTH University or USDA Organic.

November/December 2014