One in a Melon

No matter where you live in the United States, there’s a good chance that it’s watermelon season right now. From May through September, farmers in 44 states harvest the pink and green fruit (or is it a vegetable?), although four states—Florida, Georgia, Texas and California—account for a whopping 80% of all watermelon production, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service.

But, wait, back up a second. Why would watermelon’s classification as a fruit rather than vegetable even be in question? The National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) outlines arguments for both sides: Botanically, the watermelon is a fruit, as it’s the part of the plant that contains seeds. However, watermelons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family of gourds and are related to squash, pumpkin and cucumber. Like most vegetables, they’re planted in the fields from seeds or seedlings, harvested, then cleared from the field—so that’s a case for watermelons as vegetables. So much so, in fact, that Oklahoma declared watermelon to be the state vegetable in 2007!

Of course, most people would stick with the definition that classifies watermelons as fruits—and that’s certainly the case for reimbursable school meals—but is the idea that it could be considered a vegetable surprising to you? Well, get ready, because that’s probably not the only fact about watermelon that’s going to astound you...

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