OPINION: Pumpkins are fall’s ideal treat

Pumpkin pies, cakes, cookies, lattes; this versatile squash can do it all

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ANISSA CHAK

There’s a reason pumpkins are the ideal fall treat — they’re delicious.

GRACE LAPIERRE, Evergreen columnist

I went to get groceries, caving into my monthslong desire to eat something pumpkin-flavored, only to find Walmart and Safeway were out of pumpkin puree. So, my roommate bought me a pie pumpkin, and we pureed it ourselves.

While I like pumpkin things year-round and will make pumpkin bread if I can buy pumpkin puree outside of the fall season, I always knew people tend to buy them more during the fall. I had never seen it sold out before though.

“People definitely use fall as an excuse to get into [pumpkin], but it must be good for them to like it so much,” said Kimberly McDowell, senior genetics and cell biology major.

For McDowell, pumpkin is associated with Thanksgiving and being around family. Her grandmother’s delicious pumpkin pie is one example of a Thanksgiving tradition present in many households.

“I think that’s the vibe people want from fall,” McDowell said. “A little bit more relaxation than summer.”

McDowell had an interesting note regarding pumpkin spices lattes.

“I can’t have a pumpkin spice latte, that’s what ditzy girls and hipsters have,” McDowell said, mimicking a common joke about the drink.

McDowell said she takes issue with this sort of joke as pumpkin spice lattes seem to be commonly associated with women, and she feels the joke is sometimes used to put women down.

While I have never had a pumpkin spice latte, I always found women were the ones making the “basic white girl” joke regarding the drink. I had only ever seen it as people poking fun at a common fall trend, as opposed to making fun of the drink because women enjoy it.

Seasonal marketing is also something McDowell and I felt aided the pumpkin craze.

“It’s definitely advertised, corporations are encouraging a seasonal obsession with pumpkins,” McDowell said.

Bradley Jaeckel, manager of WSU’s Organic Farm, said pumpkins are a tradition in American culture. There have been pumpkin sales at WSU for as long as he could remember, Jaeckel said. First, it was the horticulture club, and then the Organic Farm who began offering pumpkin picking. As more people came out to pick, the farm had to grow more pumpkins.

“It’s cultural — it stems back to almost the founding of our country. It’s one of those stories you hear back from the days of the pilgrims, celebrating the fall crops,” Jaeckel said. “Pumpkins are a North American crop and have been grown in our continent for a really long time, so it’s pretty deeply embedded in our cultural food system.”

Jaeckel also said pumpkins have become an icon of Halloween, acting as a symbol of the fun that surrounds the holiday.

“It’s a fun crop because you can do lots of things with it; you can carve it, you can cook with it, you can make pies with it, you can flavor your latte with it now, it goes on and on,” Jaeckel said.

The WSU Organic Farm counts on pumpkin sales in its annual revenue. Jaeckel said pumpkins need to be planted in late May or early June and take all season to grow, but they are profitable and the farm enjoys the community aspect associated with them.

Typically, the organic farm likes to sell pumpkins in a big, one-day event geared toward families and the community.

“It’s kind of our fall festival, usually the first Saturday in October,” Jaeckel said. “We open the pumpkin patch, but we have our organic club come and they sell cider, we have catering make pies out of our pumpkins, we sell those, we do games, there are tractors for everybody to climb on.”

In New York, there were similar events. People in my local area loved going to Abbott Farms to pick pumpkins and apples, ride in wagons, explore the corn maze, buy delicious fudge and feed the goats. Sometimes there were apple cannons.

Because of the pandemic, the Organic Farm canceled the big weekend event but is still offering pumpkin picking in scheduled small groups of 10 or less. The farm is also working with WSU family housing to sell the pumpkins as well as other outlets.

“I had a hard time imagining not growing pumpkins, so this year, I wanted to at least have them and know that we would work our hardest to find a way to sell them,” Jaeckel said.

Pumpkins truly are a part of the fall spirit and have ties to the community as well as Halloween fun. They are a crop I’ve loved since the first time I had pumpkin bread, but also taste good in pie, cake, lattes or pudding. Roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious too.

With pumpkin, there is something for everyone. If you hate the taste, you can carve a face. It is jack-o’-lantern season after all!