By Andrew Griffin
The Lawton Constitution
Posted: April 8, 2007
OKLAHOMA CITY — What’s green on the outside and red on the inside and tastes sweet and refreshing on a summer’s day?
Answer? It’s the watermelon, and thanks to two Southwest Oklahoma legislators it’s another step toward becoming Oklahoma’s state vegetable.
That’s right. The state vegetable. The popular misconception is that the watermelon is a fruit, but it is, in fact, considered both a fruit and a vegetable, according to the online fact sheet at the watermelon information site www.watermelon.org.
State Sen. Don Barrington, R-Lawton, said he co-authored the bill, HB 1669, with state Rep. Joe Dorman, DRush Springs, and it unanimously passed through the Senate General Government Committee. The bill is scheduled to go before the full Senate in the next several weeks, Barrington said.
“I think it has a good chance of passing,” Barrington added.
“Hopefully, it gets to the governor’s desk,” Dorman said, adding that he had tried to include this as an amendment in a bill last session, but it was left out by the legislator.
“I took his advice to try it again this year,” Dorman said.
And while the state has an official beverage (milk) and an official tree (redbud), there is, surprisingly, no official state vegetable, said Dorman, who is the 1994 Rush Springs Watermelon Festival seedspitting champion.
In fact, Dorman wasn’t sure why, considering Oklahoma’s agricultural economy, no state vegetable had been selected.
“It falls in as a fruit but it’s also a vegetable because it’s a member of the cucumber family,” Dorman said, adding that the attention brought to the watermelon is a boost to his district. Promotion for Rush Springs
“It’s a huge promotion of Rush Springs and the surrounding area,” he said. “Everybody (in Rush Springs) is happy that we’re pursuing this.”
Dorman also said this bill has been popular with school children in his district. In fact, many of them drew colorful watermelons and mailed them to members of the Legislature as a sort of grade-school lobbying effort.
“It’s exciting because we get to teach the kids about the (legislative) process,” Dorman said.
While botanically the watermelon is a fruit,because it’s a vegetable crop using vegetable production systems, it’s considered a vegetable.
When Barrington was asked whether folks considered a watermelon a fruit or a vegetable, he simply replied, “It depends on who you ask.”
Dorman, meanwhile, said the bill came up at a contentious time in the Senate and that the bill helped lighten the mood.
Dorman said he recently visited South Korea and noticed that watermelon is a staple of their diet and it’s popular in China in their stir fry dishes.