My Seeded Rant
Recently I was eating some watermelon and was deeply offended, yes offended, by the “seedless” seeded watermelon in my bowl. Although it was a rich red and sweet and tasty,(tooting my own horn: I am the best fruit picker I know– especially watermelon, pineapple and strawberries) those impotent faux-seeds were all over the place. I’m not sure if I don’t eat the seeds because I know they are seeds and I remember real fruit bearing seeds in the watermelon I used to eat as a child or what. What I do know is that I can’t stand the seedless watermelon and I want REAL watermelon back. I’d much rather have big black seeds that are easy to discern and reject than the annoying, infertile, mutant seeds that try to get mixed up in my mastication. Ptooey!
What I Found
How they create seedless watermelon:
- Double the number of chromosomes in a seeded watermelon from 22 to 44 with colchicine. That’s two pairs of chromosomes.
- Plant the two pair chromosome seeds near unaltered seeds so that the unaltered watermelon can pollinate the altered seeds (the altered seeds do not produce viable pollen, remember they are impotent) giving the two pair chromosome watermelon three pairs of chromosomes now.
The seedless watermelon is the result of the three pairs of chromosomes. This process is said to have been created by Japanese scientist at Kyoto University, H. Kihara (1939 to 1951) and further developed and refined by Vic Watts of the University of Arkansas in the late 1950s.
According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB), seedless watermelon are not genetically modified, they are hybrids. NWPB likens the seedless watermelon to a mule, which is a cross between a horse and a donkey. I don’t think I am quite on board with this line of thinking.
- Planting seedless seeds will most likely yield nothing.
- A field of seedless watermelon is about 2/3 seedless watermelon and 1/3 seeded watermelon.
- The third of seeded watermelon in a field of seedless watermelon is mostly used for their seeds to pollinate the next crop of seedless watermelon.
- Recently, seedless varieties are being bred that don’t need seeded watermelon to pollinate them.
- Seedless watermelon do not have the same taste of seeded watermelon.
- Seedless watermelon average 8 to 12 pounds.
- Seedless watermelon are priced higher than seeded watermelon.
- Seedless watermelon do not have viable pollen.
- Commercial production of seedless watermelon is usually done where labor is cheapest.
- Seedless watermelon are generally harvested 28 days after pollination.
- Hollow-heart or empty middle is a common problem with seedless watermelon.
- Commercial production of seedless watermelon began in the 1990s.
I’m thinking that since the seedless watermelon are altered (I’ve read reports that claim seedless watermelon are not genetically modified; but, aren’t chromosomes part of genetics?) they are probably not the better choice for consumption. As for seedless grapes and oranges, which seem to be more successful in living up to their “seedless” classification, I don’t think they are the better choice either.
If the fruit is unable to bear fruit and ‘we are what we eat,’ what does that mean for us as consumers? Who and what type of person began the seedless movement? When it comes to watermelon, I am reminded of the stereotype that Black people love watermelon. It makes me wonder if non-Blacks spurred the commercial seedless watermelon business with hopes of not being labelled. I wonder what the consumption of seedless watermelon does to the chemistry of the human body. I wonder if seedless producers are exploiting laborers since it can be labor intensive. Seedless…. I definitely have reservations.
And just so you know, I have planted some old-fashioned seeded watermelon in my Growing Girl garden. I can’t wait!