NY insights

NY’s Cheap Bananas; Are They Safe To Eat?

Street food vendors in NY.

The campaign towards healthier living and consuming more organic and healthy food is at the core of the New York City council’s health program. While there are perfect-looking produce available in supermarkets and whole foods shops, you can also find the same types of vegetables and fruits being sold on the streets for a much lower price. Because of the huge price difference, it’s not surprising that people are wondering, are those that are sold in the streets actually safe to eat?

Take the case of bananas, for instance. A banana is a banana wherever it is sold in the world, and its price is primarily affected by its supply chain and is directly linked to its quality. So, to answer the question, YES. Bananas sold in the streets of NY are safe to eat for as long as they not overripe and rotten. If at this point you’re still skeptical, here are some reasons why bananas on the streets are mostly the same as the overpriced bananas at the supermarket.


  • NYC street vendors are regulated and have a license to sell produce.

Most street vendors in New York go through a rigorous licensing process before they can display their goods for sale — and this is especially true for those who are selling foodstuff. While a general vendor license might not be required for banana sellers on the street, a permit from the Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene is necessary. This license means that the food sold is subjected to standard guidelines and safety inspections before they are made available to the market. It also means that the agency will conduct regular inspections from time to time to ensure that all conditions are met to continue selling.

So, no, just because the bananas are sold on the street doesn’t mean someone just decided to set up and sell just because they have a reliable supply from the source.


  • A banana is a banana anywhere.

While bananas have different appearances and varieties, depending on where they were grown and their origins, how a banana grows and ripens is the mostly the same in any location. So that near-perfect looking banana that’s carefully packed in the supermarket is just about similar to the slightly spotted banana laid out on the ground outside. The nutrients are the same, the content is the same.


  • Street vendors are the government’s way of making healthy food more accessible.

An expensive banana from the whole foods shop is so because it has gone through a more stringent quality control process to make it to the display area. Factors that can affect its sellability would be the color of its skin, the presence of spots, its size, and the way it was transported. The cost of moving bananas from one location to another, plus manpower and shelf space at the supermarket all contribute to the price of every piece in the store. However, this does not mean that it is the only thing that is safe to eat.

Bananas sold by street vendors are largely government subsidized and regulated as the city’s way of bringing more healthy food options available to its residents. Because not everybody can afford supermarket packed goods, having fruits and vegetables displayed outside makes it easier for the regular NY household to gain access to good food. You can certainly buy off the streets if you don’t mind getting out of your comfort zone. You might even get to haggle for a lower price. But, again, a banana is a banana wherever it is.


How To Tell If A Banana Has Gone Bad

If the concern is if the bananas on the streets are the ones that are about to expire (compared to the natural looking ones at the supermarket shelves), there’s a quick and easy way to find out. You can tell if a banana is about to go bad by merely using your five senses. If it’s good to go, by all means, buy.


  1. Check for brown spots

Finding a few brown spots on a yellow banana is normal, but if you see mold on the skin or if it looks more brown than yellow, particularly near the stem, then it has gone bad and might not anymore be suitable for consumption.


  1. Smell it

Watch out for fermented, moldy, or mildew scents. If it smells a little sour or any of the ones mentioned, it’s likely gone bad inside and out.


  1. Check for leakage

If it starts to ooze liquid, it’s best to skip it. However, it may still be good enough to use for baking. For instance, bananas that are super ripe taste lovely when making banana cupcakes and bread. They also make delicious smoothies. Just make sure they’re not rotten.


  1. Taste it

Most street vendors and even supermarkets allow consumers to taste a sample of the produce before buying. If your banana tastes off, save your stomach and go for the less strange-looking ones.

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