May
18
2011

Exploding Chinese Melons. Surely, these are the last days.

Boom!
Boom!Courtesy sfllaw
Word on the street is that the world may be ending on Saturday. Unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly when—I’m not keyed into the ins and outs of religious fear mongering enough to make an exact calculation—so I can’t tell you if you should cancel your lunch date, or if you’ve got until midnight to continue doing whatever it is you do. Jigsaw puzzles? Hard drugs? Far be it from me to judge.

And, you know, normally I’d dismiss this as an organization’s or individual’s effort to gain attention through a frightening claim that has no basis in reality, but … watermelons are freaking exploding in China!

Whatever holy scripture this May 21st thing was extrapolated from, I guarantee there’s a passage in there along the lines of, “And in the east, melons shall burst on the vine. Their shells will rupture, and tiny seeds shall fly forth. Juice will be everywhere.” I mean, it would fit, right? This is the sort of thing that always happens before the end of the world! How am I going to explain this to my cat?!

Now, some folks—I’ll call them unbelievers—insist that the exploding melons actually aren’t bursting from anxiety over the imminent end of everything they care about. Instead, they say that they’re bursting because of a lazy farming technique, where a chemical called forchlorfenuron has been over applied. Forchlorfer… whatever, causes increased cell division in fruit, and is sprayed on watermelons and their ilk to get bigger, faster growing fruit. The resulting watermelons can be oddly shaped, and don’t taste all that great, but they’re supposed to be harmless to humans. And, apparently, they can explode.

Now, generally we keep an open mind regarding fertilizers and high-yield farming techniques around here, but this is a good example of the hazards of wily-nily application of chemicals to farms. (Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this isn’t a symptom of the apocalypse.) If there’s no significant nutritional gain, it seems kind of crazy. And if this chemical is causing explosion in the crop it’s supposed to help, it makes one wonder what its effect will be when it’s absorbed in the soil or washed off the fields (and into other vegetation). And there’s the question of whether farmers should be allowed to do this. And what the market conditions are that make them want to/need to use chemicals like forchlorfenuron. And if there’s a benefit to using it in any situations.

But that’s all probably very complicated, and should only be considered by people who don’t believe that the world is on its way out. Me? I’m not even going to brush my teeth before Saturday.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

PS—"Exploding" is probably a little hyperbolic. I'm guessing that a bursting watermelon isn't particularly violent.

posted on Wed, 05/18/2011 - 2:19pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Well, the world did not end, so I suggest brushing your teeth now. ;)

posted on Fri, 06/24/2011 - 2:49pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

It's far too late for that, I'm afraid.

posted on Fri, 06/24/2011 - 3:24pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Those would be awesome for pranks!

posted on Mon, 07/11/2011 - 2:32pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

bursting melons! is someone playing fruit ninja?

posted on Sun, 09/04/2011 - 2:08pm

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