October 17, 2009

Now Let's Talk About Your Big Fat Pumpkin

I grew this once in another life. It was a frightening experience.

If it wasn't for Halloween, this grotesque and useless vegetable would be extinct. And good riddance.

Let's review.

Somewhere dotted about the fruited plains of America something like lebenty-leben gazillion acres of pumpkins are planted every damn year. Then care and water and chemicals are slathered on these fibrous tumors causing them grow big. Some very big. Some so big that they can be hoisted into the air and dropped onto a car and obliterate said automobile.

Many are midget pumpkins. This year I'm seeing teeny-weeny baby pumpkins ripe for pumpkin abuse. But most are middle to large hunks o' pumpkin by the time they are "ready for harvesting."

Sounds so pastoral, doesn't it? "Ready for the harvest." Except that when you actually "harvest" a plant the assumption is that, somewhere, somehow, some people are actually going to eat the thing.

This is the fate of only a smidgen of the pumpkins harvested. And even among those that actually eat of the pumpkin almost all are lying through their seeds when they say they like it. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, even (shudder) roast pumpkin -- all foul concoctions fit only for the martyr mothers among us.

I know that many will claim to adore pumpkin pie, but that too is mindless. Give me any thick paste and let me pour tons of cream, evaporated milk, pounds of sugar, scoops of cinnamon and nutmeg into a butter-laced and crisp pie crust and you'll love it even if the base plant was black mold from the basement.

No, the pumpkin is not an acceptable food. But do we bag it and dump it from our list of things we use farmland for? No. We expand the acres devoted to this parasite.

We do it for the following process.

First big pumpkins are grown in industrial pumpkin patches. Then large machines and hordes of laborers go through these fields and pick them all up. Then they are loaded onto big trucks and taken to some pumpkin clearing house where the hefty gourds are unloaded and sorted.

Then they are loaded onto other large trucks and swept away to various centralized food distribution warehouses across the nation. Unloaded again these obese gourds are promptly loaded onto other trucks and delivered to grocery stores large and small where the weakened staff unloads and stacks them in piles. Oceans of diesel are burned at every step in this process.

Then in you come and lift a hefty pumpkin up and load in your car. You drive home and unload it. Then whole family gets together to eviscerate it, slimy guts and seeds and all. Then you all take sharp edged implements and slash and hack at the defenseless gourd, piercing it clean through and cutting the top of its head off in some gigantic clown lobotomy.

Then you put something on fire inside it and stick it out in front of your house. More than one family every year puts this vegetable with a fire inside it on a pile of dry leaves in front of their home thus losing their house trailer.

This is done tens or hundreds of millions of times for one single night.

After this less than peak experience, sooner or later every hacked-up pumpkin in America is thrown away.

I don't want to even begin to think about the carbon footprint on this one. Neither do you. It's too scary. Even for Halloween.

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Posted by Vanderleun at October 17, 2009 2:10 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Well when you put it THAT way.

Posted by: Jewel at October 30, 2008 8:14 PM

Nope, they do have uses. My dogs love the cooked plain pumpkin we get from Whole Foods. 2 tsp per feeding. They LOVE it!

Posted by: Robohobo at October 30, 2008 8:54 PM

"Some so big that they can be hoisted into the air and dropped onto a car and obliterate said automobile."

Please, please tell me you will fish up a YewTube video demonstrating this process.

The technical term for this fruit type (pumpkins and other gourds), a specialized sort of berry, is pepo. [The technical term for citrus-type fruit, also a kind of berry, is hesperidium]. Yes, there is a secret joy that comes of unloading esoteric jargon on the unsuspecting.

Otherwise your article said everything that needed saying. Thank you for your humanity.

Posted by: Hannon at October 31, 2008 3:35 AM

The real reason for the existence of pumpkins is the pumpkin throwing contest in Lewes, Delaware.

Posted by: Retread at October 31, 2008 4:30 AM

My wife roasted seeds last night. I ate some...I like them. Supposedly they are a good source of zinc.

Posted by: joey buzz at October 31, 2008 6:23 AM

The worse the better I suppose. Bring me the pie!

Posted by: RiverC at October 31, 2008 7:01 AM

I like pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie and pumpkin seeds.

So there . . . Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

However, it was still a good read, thanks.

Elephants love pumpkins. Perhaps we should raise elephants along with pumpkins. I think the world could use more elephants, dont't you? PETA and that grotesque, skanky caricature of femininity known as Pamela Anderson would be very happy with us. That's agood thing, right?

Also, I bet elephant meat tastes good. Ooops, sorry.

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at October 31, 2008 9:04 AM

Hey, "Jewell," nice site!

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at October 31, 2008 9:10 AM

Dude pumpkins grow like madness (they're easy to grow anywhere) so maybe its a match made in heaven. And I'll bet Elephants produce a lot of good meat.

Posted by: RiverC at October 31, 2008 10:43 AM

Yes! Yes! Let's talk more about eating elephants, and let's hope that PETA and Pamela pick up on it. Wouldn't THAT be great fun?

(I feel like Stewey from "Family Guy" for some reason)

Better yet, OOH! OOH! Let's have Jessica Simpson eat some elephant meat and announce it on a T-Shirt, and THEN let Pam Anderson know about it!

Posted by: Roderick Reilly at October 31, 2008 11:56 AM

The color is nice, no?

Posted by: doug at October 31, 2008 12:55 PM

Actually, the historical agrarian value of a pumpkin is how long it will keep in storage. A pumpkin will last many months in a cellar.

So, look at the bright side. When the economy finally crashes and howling desert winds are blowing across the fruited plains, all of humanity will survive because of all the Halloween pumpkins.

That is, all of humanity except you. So very sad.

Posted by: E-man at October 31, 2008 2:27 PM

Say it ain't so...this is pumpkin profiling at it's worst! Every day, without fail, it is with great excitement that I check in on American Digest. There is always a post that gets the neurons firing or that brings about a good belly laugh. And now this. We find out that Gerard is a pumpkin hater. How beastly!

Posted by: Barnabus at October 31, 2008 3:41 PM

If you were sitting in my living room now - I know you would be persuaded otherwise.

The pumpkins are grinning and leering after their evening atop my garden wall where they greeted clusters of drifting fairies, princesses and ninjas.

The candle-blackened rind wafts a redolence that is as fine as the memory of pine at Christmas or chocolate eggs in a grassy Easter basket.

Posted by: Cathy at October 31, 2008 6:20 PM

Didn't lose the house tonight, but had a true hell of a carbon footprint with 7 pumpkins and burning candles. Anything to punk pumpkin-head Al Gore. Put a hurt on Obama's universal healthcare plan tonight, too, with 5 million calories of useless fat and sugar delivered to children like Marxism in southside Chicago. Take that, commies.

Posted by: twolaneflash at October 31, 2008 9:39 PM

Oh dear, oh dear. Where is Gagdad Bob when we need his wise counsel?

Posted by: Deborah at October 31, 2008 9:54 PM

I hear Michelle Obama has called Barack's long-lost African relatives to get some native recipes for elephant, rino, and puma.

Posted by: twolaneflash at October 31, 2008 9:57 PM

I like pumpkin pie too. What's funny is, pumpkins started growing out of my compost heap this year, from the seeds I tossed out from the carved one last year. Free pumpkins! Yay!

Posted by: Eric Blair at November 2, 2008 8:14 AM

Pumpkin seeds, yum. And sainted Mother's pumpkin pie, and beloved dog's occasional pumpkin treat to settle his digestive system when it acts up.

This weekend I passed a four-acre plot of pumpkins, a sole Amish guy having just loaded his large cart heaping full of the big old orbs. He surveyed the remaining field with a dubious look that just screamed, what the heck am I going to do with the rest of all those pumpkins? My horse can barely pull this wagon, and by the looks of this field you'd think I hadn't even started picking, not so? Priceless

Posted by: Seppo at November 3, 2008 5:47 PM

Pumpkin pie is my favorite!!

Posted by: Joseph C at November 17, 2008 7:56 AM

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Posted by: Perth at May 14, 2009 8:06 AM

Pumpkins will keep a year in a cool cellar. Takes me that long to get up the nerve to eat it. Actually, cream cheese pumpkin roll is quite excellent. All other uses as a comestible are violations of nature. They call the little midget pumpkins "Pokemons" around here. And at least one enterprising guy has turned his pumpkin patch near the Apppalachian Trail into a multimillion dollar enterprise where all of the Atlanta yubbies come play "designer autumn outing in the mountains." Hay rides pulled by $200,000 tractors, pumpkins the size of the tractors, it's very annoying, and a sign of the Apocalypse.

Posted by: Velociman at October 17, 2009 7:09 AM

From my daughter the EMT, and her boyfriend the Seahawks season-ticket holder:


Happy Halloween, Gerard....

Posted by: Pete Madsen at October 17, 2009 10:21 AM

M'kay. I officially hate pumpkins now.

Posted by: Daphne at October 17, 2009 2:11 PM

Alright, Gerard.

Come clean.

How many pumpkins are sitting on your door stoop?

Posted by: Cathy at October 17, 2009 3:34 PM

Gerard, I hope you can outrun the Great Pumpkin when he reads this bit o' blasphemy.

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at October 17, 2009 4:46 PM

Sorry, Gerard, I'll have to disagree with you.

Being from Oz, I find Halloween a nuisance more than anything else, and carving up pumpkin for decoration is a waste of good food.

Roast pumpkin fresh from the over with lashings of gravy... yum

I also make the best pumpkin soup ever. It tastes like pumpkin, how about that??

I make mashed potatoes for the kid with pumpkin in it, and I've just got my paws on a couple of seedlings to plant in the next day or so.

Posted by: nilk at October 18, 2009 3:56 AM

you get hungry you will eat anything

Posted by: tina at October 21, 2009 10:45 AM