Archive for October, 2009
I was watching the network news last weekend and was surprised to learn that some folks can’t find pumpkins this year. I typically don’t worry about pumpkins until the week before Halloween and the day before Thanksgiving and Christmas so it truly was “news to me”. A quick search of the blogosphere confirmed the problem. For some weeks, consumers have had problems finding canned pumpkin in the stores and the pain has been felt all across the country. When the news media started reporting disruptions in the supply of fresh pumpkins the two events became the perfect storm that has created a pumpkin panic of sorts.
I decided to reach out to Bill Shoemaker, a colleague of mine and a Fruit and Vegetable Crops Specialist with the University of Illinois to get his expert perspective. The canned pumpkin shortage is the result of less than optimum growing seasons in previous years in parts of the country that supply a large portion of the nation’s pumpkins. That includes Illinois. The canned pumpkin problem, Bill says, should start to improve as more of this season’s crop is harvested. As for a shortage of fresh pumpkins that is a combination of regional shortages primarily in the Northeast and a late growing season in other parts of the country.
There is good news, however, for all of you who are worried that there will be no Jack o Lanterns for Halloween or pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkins are grown in many shapes and varieties all over the country. Food MarketMaker provides information on over 1500 pumpkin growers across 13 states many of whom have product for sale right now. Check out the Buy Sell Forum on MarketMaker http://www.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/marketplace_home.php or simply do a search on MarketMaker for pumpkin growers in your area or around the country. Just click on any of the MarketMaker states to begin your search http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/
If canned pumpkin continues to be in short supply, be adventuresome and try pumpkin pie made from scratch. For those of you who think using canned pumpkin is making it from scratch, I am talking about buying a fresh pumpkin, baking it in the oven and making your own pumpkin pie filling. If you are several generations removed from any family member who has ever cooked fresh pumpkin, check out http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/selection.html. It walks you through the process from selection to preparation in pretty easy to follow steps. My thanks to Drusilla Banks with University of Illinois’ Nutrition and Wellness team for preparing that fact sheet.
Happy pumpkin hunting.
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