Letters to editor
Sound Consumer | August 2001
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Seeded watermelons and organics autonomy
Have you noticed that normal watermelons with seeds have been getting phased out of the market? And have you noticed that this is happening much more quickly in the organic supply than in the general supermarket supplies?
Watermelon seeds are the good-medicine part of the melon, as well as the savory crunchy part. Watermelon seeds are known (in Chinese medicine and other traditions) as nutritional support for the kidneys. The Native American tradition which my family learned about watermelon seeds assumed, like the earth's right to itself, like species' right to their own genetic materials. A watermelon fast is one of the best cleanses (and one of the most pleasant and convenient) — but only if the seeds are included. For folks who aren't comfortable chewing them, other options are saving them for tea, or including them in juicing.
It's not surprising that the hybrid-seed corporations promote seedless forms of everything possible. However, it does seem surprising that the organics community has jumped onto this bandwagon so obediently. Apparently even natural foods consumers follow the advertising and forget that watermelon seeds ever existed as a resource; for some reason, most "natural foods" stores are consistently advertising only the seedless stuff, leading the charge, and the growers respond.
This has already gone so far that herb companies say they can no longer get watermelon seeds; and teas and supplements that used to include them now don't, for lack of supplies. If the corporations can take us out so easily about watermelon seeds (without it even being noticed or remarked upon), they can do the same about other resources/awarenesses too.
Explore seeded watermelons for shortening "summer colds," and other detox needs. You may agree that they are worth retaining among our options. If you do, please encourage all natural-foods stores you deal with to stock seeded organic watermelons and to post or publish the reasons (especially if the store has been actively promoting seedless watermelons).
— Olemara Peters, PCC member since 1980
Joe Hardiman, Produce Merchandiser, replies: Thanks to Olemara Peters for reminding us all about the traditional use of watermelon, both fruit and seeds, as a diuretic. The technique for producing seedless watermelons was developed by a Japanese scientist in the 1940s. The plant is a simple hybrid, the offspring of a cross between two varieties. Though it may have been developed for convenience, seedless watermelons are generally sweeter than seeded ones and will keep longer (when a watermelon becomes overripe, flesh around the seed disintegrates and leaves a hollow, which speeds up deterioration). PCC shoppers appear to prefer seedless melons; when we carry the seeded variety, they spoil for lack of a home. If PCC does carry seeded melons, we try to make sure they're organic. The Kirkland store always orders seeded melons for Olemara, and I hope enough growers continue to cultivate them so that herb companies will be supplied with seeds.