What fruit could possibly be more refreshing than watermelon.  At 92% water content, it's no surprise.  There's nothing more "summer" than cold watermelon at the picnic table.
Watermelons can be grown most everywhere here in the US, with the southern states, like Florida, California, Texas and Arizona leading the charge.  Only China Turkey and Iran grow more watermelons than the US.
Watermelons didn't begin to become popular worldwide until about 1000 years ago.  Originating in the desert of Africa, the Egyptians were the first known growers of watermelons and often put them in the tombs of their kings, supposedly to provide nourishment for the afterlife.
While the average store bought watermelon is usually between 10 to 25 pounds, while the record for the largest watermelon ever grown was set just a few years ago in Tennessee at 262 pounds.
One of the hot items, being talked about in nutritional circles is lycopene, which is the red pigment found in plants, most notably in tomatoes, red grapefruit and watermelon (but not in strawberries or cherries).
Lycopene is a very effective anti-oxidant which can actually neutralize several oxygen particles with one lycopene molecule.  Through the process of living and breathing, humans take in oxygen and create a single oxygen mocule as a byproduct.  This oxygen molecule can cause cellular damage and must be eliminated.  This is the role of the anti-oxidant.  Other anti-oxidants are Vitamins C and E.
Accoring to a Harvard University study, a diet rich in lycopene results in a lower risk of cancer.  Of course the benefits are two fold, the more fruit you eat, the less unhealthy foods you are going to eat.
In years to come, other health giving attributes to fruits will be discovered.  Of course we've known all along that fruits are extremely healthy and don't need new studies to tell us that, but it can be effective to draw people into eating more fruit.
Many people have mentioned that picking a watermelon, either off the vine, or from the store seems to be rather difficult.  Fortunately for most people, someone who hopefully knows what they're doing has picked the watermelons from the field for you and most of the ones in the stores will be just fine, but here's a few tips.  Look for a watermelon that has a nice color, not too dull, one that is firm, not soft, free of any bruises, cuts, and one that is fairly symmetrical.  The watermelon should also be heavy for its size.  If it seems light, don't buy it.  Another indication of ripeness is that the spot where the watermelon sat on the ground should not be green, instead it should be somewhat yellow.
In the field, for the growers, the best indication seems to be that the tendril, the small stem that attaches the watermelon to the vine begins to dry up.  Some people like to hold watermelons to their ear and "thump" them on the other end and listen for the difference in sound.  Personally, I have never found this method to be that accurate.
Seedless vs seeded.   I've always found the seeded to be much better overall in flavor.  My personal favorite is the Crimson Sweet.  I've had people tell me they enjoy the yellow watermelons, most popular of these is the Yellow Doll.  It has a lower sugar content than red watermelon and may be an interesting change for some people.  
Kids simply love watermelons, so you don't have to get inventive to intice them, but there are some neat things you can do.  You could freeze watermelon juice in ice trays to make watermelon cubes.  By running the some watermelon through the blender and them straining out the seeds you have watermelon juice, which is especially great for babies.
One of the other great things about watermelons is that they are still one of the cheapest fruits to buy, at least when they're in season through the summer months.  Probably the other best feature about watermelons is that you can plant seeds in the ground and harvest 25 pound fruits in 3 months.  How many fruits can you do that with?
Rejean "David" Durette
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