The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
Before I had got my first Melon seeds it was easily Rotten Flesh just because it's so easy to get from experience farms. However since then I've pretty much only used Melons because you rarely need to replant, you can automatically harvest them with pistons and you don't have to modify them to be edible.
My avatar prefers melons (despite me being a leg man).
These are what I see as their advantage:
Each harvest produces an abundant number of slices so that you don't need big elaborate fields to stay sufficiently stocked.
Melon slices require no preparation beyond harvesting.
They replenish one hunger bubble per serving.
The more hunger-satisfying foods have their place. Indeed, my avatar keeps several of them in his inventory at all times. But for me the chief disadvantage of, say, beef, is that to be truly efficient you need to lose four hunger bubbles between meals. It seems a waste to eat a four-bubble meal when your bar is down by one to three bubbles. Yet while awaiting that four-bar drop you suffer a lengthly period where health does not generate.
With melons that issue vanishes. At most you suffer a waiting period of half a bubble sans health regen. That's insignificant in most situations.
But again, there are times when your hunger bar drops low despite your best efforts. In those cases beef and other "heavy" foods are spot on.
Just so you know, the extra bubbles of food that you think are 'wasted', are actually stored in an invisible buffer, it's still counted, you just can't see the extra food.
Melons do not need any extra processing to efficiently consume
Melons each replenish one Hunger Bubble
Melon Seeds are easily duplicated
Harvest time intervals are minimal
No damageable tool is necessary to harvest them
No other source of food as all of these benefits, and most have less than six of them. The only thing I can possibly imagine that makes any other food source superior in any way is that Melon Seeds are somewhat difficult to find. However, not only are they found within a day or two of playing the game, once you have them, you never need to find them again.
Carrots, because they can be planted without the use of seeds, they all heal 4 hunger points each, they stack up to 64 (like most foods) they usually create plenty when planted to live on without any trouble at all.
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"A sword yields no power if the person who wields it holds no courage."