[Editor's Note: This is a guest post from our friends at Motherboard. The editors of MUNCHIES would like to make clear that these are not our views, and carrying watermelons is not hard.]
Just as melon season was getting into full swing, we’ve been hit with the devastating news that pre-cut melons—including, crucially, watermelons—may cause salmonella poisoning. Salmonmelonpocalypse 2k18 was the final push I needed to make a decision I’ve been contemplating for a long time: a complete switch to buying full watermelons, only.
I wanted to make this switch because pre-cut watermelon is expensive and, more importantly, often doesn’t offer enough watermelon to satisfy my requirements (for this reason, “mini watermelons” also aren’t ideal.)
But as a car-less millennial, I’ve been confronted with the harsh reality that Watermelons Are Too Heavy, especially if you do not plan a special “watermelon trip” to the grocery store and must carry other items as well. The average watermelon weighs about 20 pounds, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which represents watermelon farmers, shippers, and importers, and is extremely patient with watermelon fans like me.
I considered baby carriers, large backpacks, tote bags, and lifting weights, but ultimately decided to consult an expert. In hopes of finding a better path forward, I reached out to Stephanie Barlow, the Watermelon Board’s senior director of communications. Here is our correspondence.
Watermelon is, by far, my favorite food. I’m quite excited that watermelon season is approaching, but for the five years since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve had trouble eating as much as I’d like to.
I find that pre-cut watermelon often isn’t as good as buying a whole watermelon (and is much more expensive), but buying a whole watermelon and transporting it to my house on the subway or walking it back many blocks is tough as well because they are so heavy. My question for the Watermelon Board: how do you as an organization navigate the substantial weight of the average watermelon (I.E. is the size and weight of a watermelon a PR nightmare for the board?) And do you have any transportation tips for those who don’t own a car? Is there a preferred watermelon holster the board can recommend? Or better, a good bike rack capable of holding a watermelon?
I'm glad to hear that you love watermelon as much as we do! I understand some of your difficulties in enjoying as much watermelon as often as you like due to some quite physical obstacles of living in such an urban environment and not having as much access or transportation for your watermelons.
Admittedly, I was in NYC in December and saw fresh-cut watermelon packages that did not look very nice at all. Due to the nature of retail outlets not being sprawling spaces that may cut their own fruit from bins of watermelon in the back, there are fresh-cut fruit and vegetable processors that provide these products and services to many of the smaller retailers. Even convenience stores as you've probably seen.
As far as your question of a 'watermelon holster' the best I can recommend is learning to fold a Furoshiki bag from a large fabric scarf. I know it's not likely, but here is a YouTube video that I used to learn:
I've often had to transport a large, whole watermelon on my own, and happily it does fit into your average grocery store tote bag. You know those reusable, fabric bags that fold up? As far as fitting on a bicycle rack, I can't say we have a recommendation there. I hope the internet provides suggestions for stability and safety in transporting your watermelon. Another option is to look for the mini, or personal-sized watermelons that are growing in popularity. These are about the size of their melon cousins, the cantaloupe and honeydew. While you don't get over 3 dozen servings from a mini watermelon, it still is more easily portable
If you are able to get a full size watermelon home, there are so many ways to incorporate that healthy and delicious watermelon to recipes that you can pack to go. (In fact our press kit theme this year is Watermelon On the Go.
I wish I had the right answer for you to help solve this issue. Hopefully as the domestic season kicks in, the quality of the fresh-cut watermelon will improve near you and you can simply pick up these convenient grab-and-go containers.
If you have any other watermelon questions, I'm happy to help hopefully provide an answer!
Thanks for thinking watermelon! [Editor's Note: they signed off with a watermelon emoji that is breaking our site to include but please just envision a watermelon here]
I have yet to try this scarf method, but I do feel much better about my switch to full watermelons only. In a follow-up email, I asked about the salmonella outbreak, and Barlow tells me the board is looking into it:
“We are watching the outbreak closely,” she said. “And while every situation is different, we have not seen any data that supports a clear picture of where these problems can happen. We continue to focus on producing the safest and best watermelons everyday.”