Whatta Melon! Where Did The Watermelon Originate?


Can you guess where the watermelon originated?

Watermelon originated in the Kalahari Desert in Africa. The first watermelon was in Egypt 5,000 years ago. The harvests are depicted in hieroglyphics on ancient Egyptian walls. Watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen. The watermelon spread along the Mediterranean basin countries by way of merchant trading ships. Watermelon is also mentioned in the bible as a food eaten by the ancient Israelites while they were in bondage in Egypt.

Food historian, John Egerton states in his book, “Southern Food” that he believes African slaves brought the watermelon seed to America. The United States is the world’s fourth producer of watermelon. Watermelon can be found year round because of the number of countries that import and export the fruit. Too me, seeded watermelon is at its best during the summer months.

In stores and farmer’s markets, you will find seeded and seedless watermelons. A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. This is similar to the mule, produced by crossing a horse with a donkey; this process does not involve genetic modification.

But wait a minute – what are those soft white shells in the supposedly seedless melon that look like the tiny, underdeveloped seeds? These are the ovules (also called “pips”), the part of the plant that would become the seed in a normal watermelon. It’s really just soft coating – you cannot plant them.

Personally speaking, give me a watermelon with seeds any day of the week! However for those who eat seedless watermelon, the next time you’re savoring one, show some gratitude for the miracle of science responsible for its existence!

Watermelon contains 6% sugar and 92% water. It is a source of vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene. Watermelon is rich in the B vitamins, has been shown to lower high blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity in obese type 2 diabetic patients with insulin resistance, high in magnesium and potassium, reduces inflammation, various cancers, heart disease and asthma. Watermelon rind contains a high concentration of a phyto-nutrient that has the ability to relax the blood vessels, much like drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction. So you men that are buying Viagra toss it aside and load up on watermelon!