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Friday, October 21, 2022

Is Water melon - a fruit or Vegetable ?

It is a classic summer treat .. so much of water and sweetness – juicy and refreshing on a hot day.  Like Melons?   . ..  Watermelon, [tharbooz] (Citrullus lanatus), succulent fruit and vinelike plant of the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae), native to tropical Africa and cultivated around the world. The fruit contains vitamin A and some vitamin C and is usually eaten raw.  

The history of watermelons is a long one. The Sanskrit word for watermelon is  kāligam and fruits are depicted in early Egyptian art, indicating an antiquity in agriculture of more than 4,000 years. Domestication and selective breeding have resulted in intensely sweet large fruits with tender flesh and fewer seeds. Some modern “seedless” cultivars have almost no viable seeds.  Wait – is Watermelon a fruit or a Vegetable ??

Miles away, Oklahoma has executed by lethal injection Benjamin Cole, who was sentenced to death for the 2002 murder of his 9-month-old daughter Brianna Victoria Cole, over the objections of defense attorneys who argued the 57-year-old suffered from schizophrenia and was severely mentally ill.  The case highlighted a longstanding issue in the debate over capital punishment: how it should apply to those who suffer from mental illness. Meanwhile, relatives of the slain infant on Thursday decried the two-decade span between Brianna’s death and Cole’s execution. The execution – the second of 25 Oklahoma has scheduled through 2024 – began and concluded on Thursday.

Oklahoma  is a state in the South Central region of the United States, bordered by Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, New Mexico and Colorado.  The state's name is derived from the Choctaw words okla, 'people' and humma, which translates as 'red'. With ancient mountain ranges, prairie, mesas, and eastern forests, most of Oklahoma lies in the Great Plains, Cross Timbers, and the U.S. Interior Highlands, all regions prone to severe weather. 

Oklahoma has been described as "the world's prison capital", with 1,079 of every 100,000 residents imprisoned in 2018, the highest incarceration rate of any state, and by comparison, higher than the incarceration rates of any country in the world.

There's plenty of other edible members of the plant kingdom that are difficult to classify. Tomato is a classic example of a fruit that will never be accepted as such by mainstream society. Serve it as a savory sauce or throw it on a mixed salad, but please keep it out of fruit salads and desserts. The botanical classifications between fruits and vegetables seem a little loose, honestly. According to Healthline, a fruit is the part of a plant that comes from the flower and often carries the plant's seeds inside. Vegetables, on the other hand, are any edible part of a plant. That includes leaves, stems, and roots along with it. Based on the botanical classifications,  that would mean that while the two are usually thought of as separate, all fruits are technically vegetables, but not all vegetables are fruits.

In Oklahoma,  Rush Springs has been home to a citrullus lanatus festival since 1948; held each year on the second Saturday of August (the area is known for delicious watermelons grown in the sandy soil that encircles Rush Springs). The communities of Ringwood and Valliant also have annual watermelon festivals. Although there is discussion over whether watermelon is a fruit or a vegetable, Senator Don Barrington sponsored a bill claiming that watermelon comes from the cucumber and gourd families, which are classified as vegetables.

In 2007, House Bill 1669 was introduced to the Oklahoma House of Representatives to sanction watermelon as the state's official vegetable ! The bill was sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Joe Dorman, and Republican State Sen. Don Barrington.

Barrington has been a longtime watermelon booster. He represented the Rush Springs district constituency, where the state's annual watermelon festival is held each year. According to The Guardian, he even won a competition in 1994 for spitting a watermelon seed the furthest distance. Throughout the debates, legislators argued over the definitions of fruits and vegetables. Barrington claimed that while it was classically considered a fruit, the watermelon's placement in the Curcurbitaceae family makes it a relative of the cucumber, pumpkin, and squash, and is therefore a vegetable.  It must be noted that these relatives are actually considered fruits by the botanical definition, but would be considered vegetables in a culinary sense per Healthline.

The bill was passed by a 78 to 19 vote by the chamber, and, in the words of Barrington: "[The] controversy on whether watermelon is a fruit or vegetable has been officially decided by the Oklahoma legislature."

For those with time, debates are unending !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
21st Oct 2022. 

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