YUMA, Ariz. - Yuma is one of the largest producers of cantaloupes in the whole country.
In this week's Home Grown segment we learn about a new four million dollar project that involves growing a new type of cantaloupe right here in our own backyard.
The University of Arizona has just been given a grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, roughly $600,000 to participate in a four-year project to develop safer and healthier cantaloupes.
Seven other universities across the county also got a piece of that four million dollar pie to help with this project.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past ten years melons have accounted for more than 40 outbreaks of food borne illness in the United States
In particular, Cantaloupes cause more than half of melon-related food borne outbreaks.
“The reason for the project is Cantaloupes have a netting on the fruit on the outside that tends to harbor some of the diseases in the food safety area like salmonella and some other bacteria‘s … the reason this project is happening is because we are one of the biggest producers of Cantaloupes in the whole country,” Farm Superintendent, Humberto Hernandez at the Yuma Agriculture Center said.
Even when cleaning the melon, bacteria is very difficult to get out of the rough rind and can easily spread to the inside of the fruit which you ingest.
Yuma received a new type of seed from researchers at Texas A & M, which they hope makes a softer rind. The Yuma Ag Center just planted these seeds at the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture (YCEDA) and there they will observe how these seeds do in our dry desert climate.
If you buy any type of melon with a rough rind be sure to clean it very well before consumption. We will continue to follow this story.