Wow ... this is the third year I've been in Ohio with my family for 'harvest-time' ... the years have flown by. The first year, we had just arrived so everything was new to us. The second year, we were back home in the UK renewing our visas. So, this year has really been the first time we've immersed ourselves in the whole pumpkin patch, hay ride experience ... it really is part of learning the local culture. (Check out Our Pumpkin Patch Adventure to see what other precious things we went hunting for!)
Driving through town right now, it seems that many people decorate their houses with scarecrows and pumpkins. When we went to the pumpkin patch and picked out ours, we joked with some friends who asked if we knew what we were meant to do with them, as we 'weren't from around here'! They went on to explain you put them out the front of your house for decoration or take out all the centre and make jack-o-lanterns (something we do in the UK but not to the extent we've seen here).
The desserts at our first Thanksgiving in 2009, were pumpkin-tastic ... pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin roll and a few other things (yes, really). Given that experience, we expected to be told that all the hollowed out pumpkin stuff can be used in many different recipes. But no, our friends said they just throw it away and buy pumpkin pie mix at the supermarket which made us laugh a lot!
Over the days following our pumpkin patch fun, I found myself coming back to that conversation. I really loved the fun we had going on a hayride and picking out pumpkins with the girls, especially as the weather has started to change and you have to wrap up all warm and snug. But I was also thinking about the hundreds of thousands of pumpkins in the supermarkets, on peoples front porches, decorated as jack-o-lanterns and being totally splatted at pumpkin launches (see Punkin Chunkin)... that are grown and never actually get eaten.
I know first hand people in many different countries of the world who struggle to make ends meet or to find adequate food for their family, whether through lack of money or bad harvests. I'm not out to make anyone feel guilty about their 'pumpkin use' ... as the finger will also be pointing back at me ... but as well as enjoying the whole experience, it also made me feel a little bit sad at the utter waste.
I guess I still haven't quite figured out what to make of it all yet. Maybe I should just hunt down some great recipes and try and change the world, one pumpkin at a time!!