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Original Essays | September 18, 2014

Lin Enger: IMG Knowing vs. Knowing

On a hot July evening years ago, my Toyota Tercel overheated on a flat stretch of highway north of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A steam geyser shot up from... Continue »
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1 Beaverton Gardening- History and Theory
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Other titles in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series:

Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)


Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Why do so many Americans drive for miles each autumn to buy a vegetable that they are unlikely to eat? While most people around the world eat pumpkin throughout the year, North Americans reserve it for holiday pies and other desserts that celebrate the harvest season and the rural past. They decorate their houses with pumpkins every autumn and welcome Halloween trick-or-treaters with elaborately carved jack-o'-lanterns. Towns hold annual pumpkin festivals featuring giant pumpkins and carving contests, even though few have any historic ties to the crop.

In this fascinating cultural and natural history, Cindy Ott tells the story of the pumpkin. Beginning with the myth of the first Thanksgiving, she shows how Americans have used the pumpkin to fulfull their desire to maintain connections to nature and to the family farm of lore, and, ironically, how small farms and rural communities have been revitalized in the process. And while the pumpkin has inspired American myths and traditions, the pumpkin itself has changed because of the ways people have perceived, valued, and used it. Pumpkin is a smart and lively study of the deep meanings hidden in common things and their power to make profound changes in the world around us.

Cindy Ott is assistant professor of American Studies at Saint Louis University.

"From the symbolism of pumpkins in classical and medieval mythology, to locavores and harvest festivals, Ott's paean to pumpkins is important, entertaining, and enlightening." -Warren Belasco, author of Food, the Key Concepts

"Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon shows how a plant that we ignore for most of the year is all the more important to the popular culture of the United States and to the imaginations of its citizens precisely because we pay attention to it so occasionally. By reencountering it at harvest time, we remind ourselves where we come from--though, as Cindy Ott so playfully reveals, the story of where we come from, like that of the pumpkin itself, is a good deal more complicated than we think." -From the foreword by William Cronon

Product Details

The Curious History of an American Icon
Ott, Cindy
Cronon, William
University of Washington Press
Environmental History
Food -- History.
Cooking and Food-US General
Cooking and Food-Vegetables General
Cooking and Food-Fruits and Vegetables
Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
Publication Date:
34 illus.
9 x 6 in

Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » By Ingredient » Fruit
Cooking and Food » By Ingredient » Fruits and Vegetables
Cooking and Food » By Ingredient » Vegetables General
Cooking and Food » General
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking
Cooking and Food » Regional and Ethnic » United States » Ethnic
Cooking and Food » Regional and Ethnic » United States » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Agriculture and Food
History and Social Science » US History » General
Home and Garden » Gardening » History and Theory

Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books) Used Hardcover
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Product details 336 pages University of Washington Press - English 9780295991955 Reviews:
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