How decorative gourd season conquered fall Gourds have become a symbol of the fall. (Girgiel, Edyta/the food passionates/Corbis/Girija Patel/Flickr)
How decorative gourd season conquered fall
Lexile

They’re otherworldly and weird-looking. They sport odd names. The names include Turk’s Turban and Goblin Eggs. It even includes Lunch Lady. You’ll find them in rustic baskets across America this autumn. They’re decorative gourds. And they’ve become an increasingly hot produce for farmers. That's according to NPR’s Vanessa Rancano. 

Squash are among the earliest plants domesticated by humans. But the most bizarre varieties have recently become popular as seasonal ornaments. Gourd breeders tell Rancano that they’ve spend decades perfecting colorfully gnarled squash. They sell at auction. They sell to farmers’ market vendors and restaurant owners. Or they sell to grocers. And they sell at high markup to fall fanatics. 

The decorative gourd is no niche fad. Its price nearly doubled between 1993 and 2007. They’re so popular they’ve sparked data analyses. It tells precisely when their season begins and ends. They've also sparked wildly shared parodies and helped support a grassroots tradition of folk crafts. Painted birdhouses, anyone? 

Perhaps this demand can be chalked up to the marketing of autumn. It is a celebration of all things fall. It spreads from Starbucks lattes and flavored Twinkies. It even includes “fall-scented” kitty litter.

Or maybe, the rise of the gourd is part of a broader food trend. A move towards cherishing ugly, funky-looking fruits and vegetables. With everything from “imperfect” CSAs to art projects about ugly produce finding acclaim. 

It’s safe to say misshapen crops are having a culinary moment. Ugly produce makes up to 40 percent of food waste in some countries — so it’s about time that twisted squash gets a place in the spotlight.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What fall traditions do you look forward to most? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (16)
  • Demariusp-orv
    9/21/2018 - 11:54 a.m.

    I really like fall because my birthday is in fall. I look forward to Halloween in the fall. The first day of fall on September 22.

  • ZaineI-dec
    9/24/2018 - 08:11 a.m.

    I look forward to handing out candy on Halloween in fall.

  • AvaR-dec
    9/24/2018 - 09:29 a.m.

    I look forward to halloween, I like Halloween because I get a lot of candy. My favorite is twix.

  • GraceR-dec
    9/24/2018 - 09:48 a.m.

    I'm looking forward to Halloween. I love to see all the decorations. The best part is candy.

  • nathanr-orv
    9/24/2018 - 11:55 a.m.

    They took over the season because they are so odd looking and I think people like that they look like that.

  • calebr-orv2
    9/24/2018 - 02:05 p.m.

    I am looking forward to Halloween because I get to scare people and I get to work at a trunk -or- treat at my church and give candy to kids and adults.

  • joeyw-orv
    9/25/2018 - 10:33 a.m.

    My favorite thing in fall is Thanksgiving. Mostly because there is a lot of good food. My favorite food during Thanksgiving is probably turkey or the stuffing.

  • jordanw-orv1
    9/25/2018 - 03:06 p.m.

    I look forward to Thanksgiving because of the food and camping. I love to camp especially in the cold. Because I can make fires more and cook food!

  • PaigeM-dec
    9/27/2018 - 08:21 a.m.

    Squshishs are really interesting. It is also cool that they are used for decorations.

  • PaigeM-dec
    9/27/2018 - 08:24 a.m.

    I am really looking forward to Halloween. I love all the candy I get and watching all the other kids get scared. My friend and I are being Angie and Devil this year. Although I think I’d be a good devil, my friend looks better in red and I look better in white. I love being able to stay out with my friends now that I’m old enough too.

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