What Exactly Are We Eating?

In Archive by

Source: freshplaza.com

Source: freshplaza.com

To most people, nothing better compliments potato salad or fried chicken on a hot summer day like a delicious slice of watermelon, but have you ever wondered where the stereotype of Black people liking watermelon comes from?

Watermelons are associated with historic Black stereotypes because during the 19th century this fruit was a daily part of a slave’s regular diet. As Keith Woods of the Poynter Institute states, “Since the earliest days of plantation slavery, the caricature of the dark-skinned black child, his too-red lips stretched to grotesque extremes as they opened to chomp down on watermelon, was a staple of racism’s diet. Over time, the watermelon became… part of the image perpetuated by a white culture bent upon bolstering the myth of superiority by depicting the inferior race as lazy, simple-minded pickaninnies interested only in such mindless pleasures as a slice of sweet watermelon.”

Today, Afrikan Americans are still stereotyped as watermelon enthusiasts and depicted in pop-culture as ‘ghetto’ for enjoying the fruit. In fact, after his inauguration, memes were spread all over the internet of President Obama carrying a watermelon aboard Air Force One. However, a survey by the USDA Economic Research Service showed that Asians and Latinos were the strongest consumers of watermelon in America. Ironically, the survey also showed that the amount of watermelon the average American ate in 1996 was 5.9 kilograms for Whites and 6.0 kilograms for Blacks; a difference of only 0.1 kilograms.

Despite their stereotypical relationship with Afrikan Americans, watermelons over the years have been linked to several health benefits. According to a study in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, drinking watermelon juice before an intense workout can reduce an athlete’s soreness because watermelons are rich in amino acids that help relax blood vessels and improve circulation. In addition, watermelons are over 90 percent water and full of vitamins and minerals, but low in calories; a single wedge of watermelon fulfills one-third of the recommended daily values of vitamin A and C, as well as potassium.

If you have ever tried a slice of watermelon you know how enticing and thirst-quenching it can be. Though, the next time you sink your teeth into the juicy red flesh of a watermelon or any other food item, ask yourself: What exactly are we eating?


Author: Arielle Tripp

Nommo Staff