The watermelon lesson

I took on a watermelon yesterday and I didn’t win. In fact, I had four separate allergic reactions from it. While I still haven’t figured out all of the clues, it appears to boil down to not following safe food handling procedures. There were three mistakes made, each one of them avoidable.

The first mistake was buying the watermelon. Melons are subject to ethylene gas treatment, just like advocatos and potatoes. I have previously safely consumed conventional watermelon, but since I cut potatoes out of my diet for this reason last week, it would have been reasonable to question the safety of melons in general.

The second mistake was cutting the watermelon without following the kitchen protocol that requires all fruits and vegetables to be washed and scrubbed thoroughly before peeling or cutting. This is due to the fact that the knife and/or peeler will transfer the surface coatings to the inside of the item being cut.

The third mistake was from placing an unwashed herbicide/pesticide/preservative/wax coated watermelon on my allergen-free, oiled wood cutting board and chopping it into three big pieces.

It didn’t turn out to be the perfect mid-morning snack that it was supposed to. Within a few minutes of making my bracha I had a full-blown allergic reaction with swollen lips, gums, throat and serious stomach cramps.

Around lunchtime I decided that I would somehow be able to safely scrape off the toxic shmutz that the knife dragged through the heart of the melon and render the melon safe for me to continue eating. If I didn’t have enough evidence that I wasn’t thinking clearly already, this should have done it. It didn’t work. My lips got fatter and the stomach cramps returned with a vengeance.

Later in the day, even though I was clearly ill, I wanted to make something for my wife for dinner. I weebled and wobbled my way into the kitchen and made some rice, a nice sour cream dip, washed and peeled some carrots, and then cut them into happy little carrot sticks on my favorite allergen-free wooden cutting board that I only use to cut safe, peeled and washed vegetables.

I didn’t have much of a dinner, however I did have some carrot sticks and dip. It didn’t take long for my lips to start tingling after I started eating, but because I was so sick I wrote it off as having put a little too much cayenne pepper in the dip. As the symptoms were getting worse I simply wrote it off as another phase of one of the earlier allergic reactions.

Sometime after midnight and having woken up from a nap, I decided to snack on the remaining carrots and dip. Once again my lips swelled and the stomach cramps returned. After I had eaten them all I realized that I had not washed the cutting board after cutting the watermelon, and that whatever toxic shmutz that was used to coat the watermelon was now coating the carrots.

What did I learn from this? I’m not sure, but I have the better part of three days to think about it, because that’s how long those allergens like to hang around.


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