The Watermelon You Should Never, Ever Eat
Did you know that watermelon seeds in China, eastern China particularly are covered in exploded fruit? Growth chemicals are used in order to make crops much bigger. However, farmers do not quite get the results they expect –
Forchlorfenuron, a growth accelerator, to increase the size of their watermelons. Even melons that survive the chemical treatment tend to give fibrous, misshapen fruit. Most of the seeds in these melons are white instead of black.
According to MSNBC:
“Chinese regulations don’t forbid use of the substance. It is also allowed in the United States for use on kiwi fruit and grapes … About 20 farmers and 115 acres of watermelon around Danyang were affected … Farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs.”
It may sound like a joke to you, but it is pretty real. Forchlorfenuron is implicated in the so-called “exploding melon” phenomenon.
It is a “plant growth regulator,” and in 2004 it was registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use on raisins, grapes, and kiwi fruits. As explained in the EPA Pesticide Fact Sheet, farmers apply the chemical to the flowers and/or developing fruits during early post-bloom stage to increase fruit size, fruit sed, cluster weight, and cold storage. The sheet explaines that forchlorfenuron “acts synergistically with natural auxins to promote plant cell division and lateral growth.”
As MSNBC explained, Chinese farmers apply the chemical “during overly wet weather and… too late in the season, which made the melons burst,” which is totally wrong.
Yes, that is true. Melons explode by the acre.
An article published on May 24, by The Epoch Times, revealed that the seeds were actually “quality watermelon seeds,” that were imported from Japan. Only 10 of the 20 farmers in the affected Chinese fields used imported seeds. However, it is still not clear whether all farmers with bad crops had used forchlorfenuron.
These ruptured melons are not the most concerning issue of this story. What about consumer safety. Even though no specific health hazards were covered in these articles, they sure allude that there are possible health concerns.
Are growth promoting chemicals safe to eat?
According to MSNBC:
“The report quoted Feng Shuangqing, a professor at the China Agricultural University, as saying the problem showed that China needs to clarify its farm chemical standards and supervision to protect consumer health. the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.”
Unfortunately, forchlorfenuron is legal in both China and the US. But, you probably wonder whether it should be. As explained in the EPA pesticide fact sheet, the chemical is not harmless to environment or animals, and possibly humans. Animal studies have shown certain side-effects, including:
- Increased incidence of alopecia (hair loss)
- Decrease in birth weight
- Increased mortality in pups
- Decrease in litter sizes
Forchlorfenuron was also characterized like “moderately toxic to freshwater fish on an acute basis.”
How to spot fruits frown with such chemicals?
The most common indicator that fruits or veggies have been “flavored” with some chemicals is their lac of flavor. They may look plump and fully ripe, but the flavor sure lacks.
These happens because growth enchancers stimulate cell division and fruits grow faster, so the chemical drains them of flavor. If you think better, this is quite logical. Flavor indicates ripeness, which comes with time. Unripe fruits and veggies are tasteless.
Treated watermelons are large and have a brightly colored surface, but the color of their meaty part is more white than red. These watermelons have white seeds and fibrous, misshapen fruit. This applies to regular watermelons with black seeds. Seedless varieties have tiny white seeds.
Your fruits and vegetables have hormones? Yes, you bet!
This issue does not get much attention. While the world is aware that CAFO raised meat is packed with hormones, not many people imagine their fresh fruits and veggies to be loaded with hormones.
But they sure are. Zheng Fengtian, a professor of agriculture at the Renmin University, explains that hormones increase yields by 20 percent and more, which is why they are “widely used.”
You would certainly not expect some of the hormones to end up onto your plate, including oxytocin, or commonly referred to as “love hormone” or “bonding hormone.”
It acts as a neuromodulator in the brain. Oxytocin is released naturally in women during childbirth, and it is also biochemically synthesized and available as a drug that is prescribed to induce labor. Apparently, it is illegally injected into fruits and veggies in some parts of the world…
Last summer, Dinesh Trivedi, the Indian health minister, warned that oxytocin is illegally used in fruits and vegetables in India. This hormone helps the produce to grow larger and ripen sooner than normal. The produce also appear much plumper and fresher.
Trivedi said that oxytocin is used on:
FoodSafety.com reported that the drug that is actually banned for public sale in India is widely available from vendors of fertilizers and pesticides. Oxytoxin-loaded products may cause side-effects like:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nausea Vomiting
- Stomach ache
- Neurotic complications
- Nervous breakdowns
What other growth promoters are used on produce?
Farmers use other growth promoting agents like:
- Ethylene (commonly used to ripen mangoes)
- Calcium carbide (used on apnd guaples, papayas, avas)
According to a industry source, ethylene is considered GRAS, or generally recognized as safe, but calcium carbide “may contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus, both highly toxic to humans,” so most countries have banned it.
One of the Chinese farmers whose crops turned bad used a formula that combined growth enhancers, sweetening agents and a “calcium solution.” It is still not clear whether this formula used on exploding melons contained any calcium carbide and forchlorfenuron. Whatever farmers used, they sure did not get the results expected.
Still hesitate to go organic?
If you still wonder whether you should go organic, the following info will sure spur you into action.
Conventionally grown fruits and veggies are loaded with pesticides, hormones and chemical growth promoters. These harm health, especially of young children. And yes, conventional produce in your supermarket is transpored from all over the world, meaning that it does not affects only the region in which it was grown.
Organic produce is high in nutrients, so you get more for the money you pay. A four-year EU-funded study found that:
- Organic fruits and veggies provide 40 percent more antioxidants
- Organic foods have higher amounts of minerals like iron and zinc
- Milk from organic herd contains 90% more antioxidants
And last but not least, if you are really into flavors, organic foods sure taste better. Locally-grown organic produce is the best bet. That is the best of both areas.
But, if you cannot buy locally grown organics, look for USDA certified organic foods, but not imported organic produce. Wilted organic foods do not provide nutrients like fresh foods, even if it is conventionally cultivated, so freshness is something you should pay attention to.
There are certain exceptions to all-organic rules, which you may find interesting if you cannot find any organic foods. For more info on conventionally-grown produce that is safe to consume read the article 12 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic.
Organic is better even though it costs much more, but it will sure safe you some money in future, that you would otherwise spend on healing yourself if you prefer to buy whatever comes to your hand. Invest a bit more and avoid paying large medical bills later in life.
This will keep you safe from physical and mental disability and dysfunction that occur as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Do not let labels mislead you. Learn more about what to look for, talk to local farmers and share this info with your loved ones, friends and pretty much everyone you know. Eventually, you will help the movement toward a healthier life.