Florida leads the US for delivering watermelon health benefits to eager watermelon lovers across the continent.
According to Trey Miller, president of the Florida Watermelon Association (FWA), Florida is currently the country’s leading supplier of US-grown watermelons. Annual production is estimated to supply 25% of the domestic supply, around 907 million pounds.
Which states comes in 2nd and 3rd? That would be Texas and California.
As a historical comparison, Florida shipped 4300 carloads of watermelons in 1924. I assume the “cars” were train cars, not Fords!
Back then, as it is now, Florida has the advantage of being the first to market ahead of other states, It also enjoys two growing seasons. One in the spring and one in the fall. Warm winter weather allows the first planting to start in December.
However, all regions of Florida are not equal for growing watermelon. The northern areas have a cooler climate and better natural drainage, suitable for melons. The southern regions near the Everglades must contend with bugs that can get to the fruit before the farmers do!
The sweet little red and green melon accounts for 30% of all agriculture crops grown in Florida. For a state with known as a “year-round garden,” that is quite an accomplishment. With so many melons grown locally, there are plenty of places to support the local watermelon growers and get your daily dose of watermelon rind health benefits.
Who are the watermelon farmers? Well, they could be your neighbor! A Florida Farm Family article highlights Adam and Ashley Cook of Cook Farms in Trenton. They have 2200 acres of pastureland and farmland, of which 100 are devoted to watermelons.
Read the full article here: Florida Farmers Grow Fresh, Seasonal Watermelon for Consumers Across the Country.
By comparison, Florida had around 28,000 total acres devoted to watermelon crops in the early 1920s.
A Historical Florida Connection: The Melon King of Monticello
The bounty of Florida’s watermelon crop began with the seed. Actually, a lot of them! In the early 1920s, Monticello, “The Heart of Natural North Florida” in Jefferson County (named after the third US President), was the watermelon center of Florida, supplying watermelon seeds worldwide.
William Girardeau purchased $50 worth of watermelon seeds in 1882 to plant on 60 acres of land. By 1889 he employed 100 field hands to process 75,000 pounds of seeds for sale. That’s about the weight of nine hippopotami and the volume would overflow a 40 foot cargo container. Girardeau became known as the “Melon King of Monticello” for not just growing melons but for selling the seeds.
Even today, the city celebrates its heritage with the Watermelon Festival every June.
Watermelon Health Benefits and Nutrition
You already know that watermelon is juicy and sweet. But do you know about the health benefits of watermelon?
Here are just a few watermelon nutrition facts that benefit your health:
Did you know that watermelon has more heart-healthy benefits than tomatoes?
Lycopene is the micronutrient that gives both fruits their red color and benefits heart health, bone health, lower inflammation, and may help with prostate cancer prevention. The redder the watermelon, the greater the lycopene.
The rind (white part of the flesh) and the seeds are packed with nutrition too! The rind may not be as sweet as the red part, but it is sweet for your body. Try it pickled, blended into a smoothie, juiced, or shredded into your salads for some extra crunch.
Other health benefits from the whole watermelon (including rinds and seeds) may include:
Skin and hair health (high levels of vitamins A&C)
May combat some cancers (because of its high level of lycopene which protects cells from damage)
May help asthma symptoms (vitamin C)
Relieves achy muscles (the amino acid citrulline may reduce muscle soreness. In a 2013 study, watermelon seemed to enhance the absorption of the amino acid)
May help prevent kidney stones (because of the potassium and it’s a natural diuretic)
Great detox (magnesium and potassium are essential for detoxification)
May reduce acid reflux symptoms
Promotes sexual health (or just sex)! Because the juice and flesh can relieve arterial stiffness, support circulation, and improve blood flow, watermelon may encourage arousal and blood flow to your sexual organs.
For further reading about the benefits of watermelon rind, eating watermelon seeds, watermelon rind benefits and watermelon nutrition facts, click here for a scientific watermelon nutritional study.
Nutritional Benefits of Watermelon Rind Meatballs
Yes…we said meatballs!
Adding the nutritional benefits of watermelon rind to meatballs is simple. You basically saute’ 2 cups of diced watermelon rind in olive oil, then add it to your favorite meatball recipe.
For the complete vitamin and mineral composition in watermelon rind, click here.
What is your favorite way to eat watermelon? Do you have a go-to watermelon recipe? Are you a purist – just the watermelon, please – or do you enjoy it grilled, skewered, blended, or tossed up in a salad with feta or goat’s cheese?
Let us know below!
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