Instead, we feasted on Crenshaws, Ogens and Santa Claus melons. One taste of those and our interest in over-commercialized cantaloupes and honeydews quickly disappeared.
Sadly, I live in Chicago now. This winter I finally gave in and bought a cantaloupe two weeks ago and a honeydew this week. They tasted sugary, yet flavorless.
At least I did not get salmonella poisoning. Cases of the illness have been linked to a Honduran grower named Agropecuaria Montelibano, which has been fighting massive recalls in this nation and Canada. (Fortunately for me, the cantaloupe and honeydew I ate were from Guatemala.)
Honduras enlisted its President, Manuel Zelaya, to prove they are safe, reports CNN:
“It’s not in our fruit,” he said about last week’s report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that some Honduran cantaloupes may be contaminated with salmonella. “It’s not true what they are saying. Logically, we believe it is an error.”
Then, the 55-year-old father of four asked the viewers of CNN en Español to indulge him as he engaged in a show-and-tell demonstration. “Permit me a second,” he said as he stretched his left arm across the tabletop and outside the view of the camera, then pulled into view a box of fruit.
“Here I have the box of melons that we are exporting to the United States; here are the protective bags,” he said.
Zelaya lifted a cantaloupe from the box, placed it in front of him, then grabbed a knife and a fork.
“Permit me to make a demonstration,” he said, then cut open the fruit, sliced off a chunk, put it in his mouth and chewed vigorously.
“I eat this fruit without any fear,” he said with his mouth full. “It’s a delicious fruit. Nothing happens to me!”
Grandstanding aside, there have been at least 50 cases of salmonella in 16 states directly related to this grower. At least 14 Americans have been hospitalized. Nine illnesses have been reported in five of Canada’s provinces, reports Canada.com.
Salmonella poisoning, which can cause fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, is not pleasant. It’s even more dangerous for children, elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
In the United States a variety of fruit resellers have been forced to announce recalls. So far:
- Simply Fresh Fruit
- T.M. Kovacevich
- Charlie’s Produce
- Bounty Fresh
- Chiquita Brands
- Spokane Product Inc.
- JARD Marketing Corp.
- Fresh Express Food Corp.
One of these days, we’re all going to have to go back to growing our own food just to be sure it’s safe for ourselves and our children.