Pumpkins are more than just a Halloween decoration

The celebration of Halloween can stretch beyond decorating the house with gourds and pumpkin garole, 2 for $5 bags of chocolate candy, costume parties, haunted houses…

Photo credit of Matthew Benson

Last year we decorated our home with all things fall: pumpkins, gourds, and what I thought at the time was pumpkins- were actually squash.  The house was festive,  fall was in the air.  However, the realization that my family could actually eat the pumpkins and fall crops never set in.  Some sadly rotted away, and a few are still in tact around the house as decoration.

Recently, I have experienced a paradigm shift when it comes to sustainability and food. And now this shift is even affecting the way I do holidays. In the past, I didn’t know or care about where my produce came from or getting the most use out of it.  A farm was something I visited twice a year for pumpkin and Christmas tree picking.  I wasn’t about wasting my time roasting the pumpkin, scrapping the flesh out, puree it…blah blah- that’s what the grocery is there for, right?

  Having children changed me.  It continually stretches me.  Motherhood has led me to question what is valuable and time worthy.

My four year old son developed the brilliant idea from the show Caillou that I should make a pumpkin pie from scratch.  Initially I wanted to shy away from the time consuming process and buy pre-made filling and crust.  Oh the disgrace this would be to my mother’s example of home made cooking!

I took the challenge, excited for an opportunity to grow and spend quality with my loved ones.  Since I was competing for mom of the year award with my son, I needed to show him how it was done (the recipe possibilities were endless) What a wonderful hands on approach for my boys to learn the value in what we grow!  My sons after all, will not remember the house beautifully decorated in the feelings of fall, but the time we spent together preparing our pumpkin feast, acquainting ourselves with farm life, and enjoying family.  The joy of watching their delight in eating mom’s first pumpkin pie still wells inside of me.

The yield that was created from two small sugar pumpkins was shocking:

  • a memorable and priceless son’s birthday celebration at pumpkin patch
  • fun time carving with daddy
  • roasted pumpkin seeds’
  • 2 pumpkin pies (my first time making a pie)
  •  pumpkin bread
  • pumpkin pancakes
  • 8 banana and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins
  •  2 cups of leftover puree.

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This annual pumpkin experience was encouraging.  A reminder of where we were as a family last year, and the hope of the changes of next year.  Not only are we still enjoying the delicious tastes, I am left with some contemplation of all the other ways I waste.  To not comprehend/use the valuable things around me and to label it as something trivial or unimportant.

For the first time, I have an understanding of the farm where we bought the pumpkins. I think of the burden that it takes to keep it all going.  I respect and cherish the process the workers so diligently invested in to bring this celebration of fall.  I can honestly say that I would not have this same appreciation for the farm and its harvest, if I hadn’t experienced the pleasure of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  In the beginning of the season, the weekly food share confused me, I had no idea how to cook these items.  Some of them I had never heard of before.  But I had an immense respect for the produce, and the One that so diligently knit these together.  Because of the disconnection with the land because I had a disconnection with food.

Gourds aren’t just for centerpieces. Pumpkins are not destined to be used only for pumpkin pies.  I can be a conscious holiday consumer.  Picking the perfect super hero’s costume for my sons at the local thrift store, squeezing as much fun and harvest out of the pumpkins, and considering my annual holiday impact on the environment.  According to the National Retail Federation in 2009, Americans would spend a record $5.8 billion on costumes, cards, candy and decorations for the holiday.  The celebration of Halloween has become the second top party night of the year.  Is this what is valuable to be spending our time and money on?  Will this one night add value to our family?  In what ways can we exhibit conscious behavior in this holiday season?

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