Jessica: Watermelon Tripping

After a winter of heavy stews and root vegetables, summer’s juicy watermelon is always a treat! I hopped a plane to Fort Meyers to see how watermelon makes the journey from farm to table.
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Watermelon takes equally delicious turns in sweet and savory dishes, perks up a glass of water or a virgin cocktail (try it with sparkling cider and chile-infused honey) and hydrates the body after physical activity. I had the opportunity to tour a few watermelon farms in Fort Meyers, Florida, with the National Watermelon Board this past spring.

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Our first glimpse of the juicy melons came in Yum-Yum’s commercial packing space. Needless to say, after ogling variously sized melons we were hungry for a taste. Luckily, the next stop was a farm that does packing on site.

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Watermelons roll in on school buses with sawed-off roofs (so cool!) and are sorted. TIP: Notice the melons’ “yellow bellies,” large yellow spots on the side that grew against the ground. This, along with good weight and the absence of dents or bruises, is the sign of a great melon – remember that next time you’re at the supermarket!

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Finally, a taste! Fresh out of the field. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!

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I also got to chill with some watermelons in the field, some of the last of the harvest. At the Sakata Seed facility, we were schooled in seed cultivation. (Please don’t ask me for details though – science was never my strong suit!)

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Last but certainly not least, chef and watermelon carver extraordinaire Joseph Poon chiseled some incredible melons before our very eyes! The hue of the fruit was such a deep cherry red, thanks in part to being perfectly ripe and brimming with flush-inducing lycopene, a carotene credited with protecting cells and preventing the oxidation of cholesterol.

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Citrulline also offers fantastic health benefits courtesy of watermelon. The amino acid aids in the production of arginine, which helps remove ammonia from the body. It also relaxes the blood vessels, lowing high blood pressure and making the fruit a fantastic post-workout hydrator. Check out our Watermelon Lobster Taco recipe!

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