Synopses & Reviews
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
"A harvest of precise, wide-ranging research, Pumpkin traces the historical roots twining beneath the pumpkin patch and supporting modern farm-stand agriculture and the reinventing of agrarian myth." -John R. Stilgoe, Harvard University
"Cindy Ott presents a fascinating study of America's darling squash. . . . Her thorough investigation of the renowned autumn icon takes a detailed look into American social and agricultural history." -Kelly Restuccia, OhRanger!, October 2012
"After smashing our illusions about the Pilgrims, Ott continues her pumpkin iconoclasm. . . . The pumpkin as symbol comes full circle." -Nina C. Ayoub, The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2012
"Her analysis certainly leads to a deeper consideration of this simple vegetable and how it is that Americans may still consider the country a farming nation, although the number of farmers had declined dramatically. . ." -Rae Katherine Eighmey, Minnesota History
"Cindy Ott digs deeply and creatively in furrowing a few familiar and many elusive sources in this major contribution to American agricultural and sociocultural history." -Michael Kammen, The Journal of American History, Vol. 100(1), 2013
"There is much treasure to be mined from this engaging work of nonfiction, so carve out some reading time, and enjoy a pumpkin-tastic narrative." -Jan Johnson, The Columbian
"That Ott has done her homework on the topic is evident throughout. . . .there is a wealth of historical context in each chapter, including extensive work on Pilgrims, sectionalism in the early republic, market capitalism, and agricultural history." -Andrew Duffin, Environmental History, January 2014
"From pumpkin beer and pumpkin pie to the Headless Horseman in Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Linus's undying faith in the Great Pumpkin in the Peanuts comic strip, Cindy Ott cultivates the entire patch." -David Abrams, The Quivering Pen, October 2013
and#8220;The subject is highly important to the current and future development of the food industry, especially for local alternatives. . . . [Growing Local] makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of contemporary issues in the food system.and#8221;and#8212;Charles Francis, professor of agronomy and horticulture and the former director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture Systems at the University of Nebraska
In an increasingly commercialized world, the demand for better quality, healthier food has given rise to one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. food system: locally grown food. Many believe that andldquo;relocalizationandrdquo; of the food system will provide a range of public benefits, including lower carbon emissions, increased local economic activity, and closer connections between consumers, farmers, and communities. The structure of local food supply chains, however, may not always be capable of generating these perceived benefits.
Growing Local reports the findings from a coordinated series of case studies designed to develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of how local food products reach consumers and how local food supply chains compare with mainstream supermarket supply chains. To better understand how local food reaches the point of sale, Growing Local uses case study methods to rigorously compare local and mainstream supply chains for five products in five metropolitan areas along multiple social, economic, and environmental dimensions, highlighting areas of growth and potential barriers. Growing Local provides a foundation for a better understanding of the characteristics of local food production and emphasizes the realities of operating local food supply chains.
About the Author
Robert P. King is a professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. Michael S. Hand is a research economist with the USDA Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. Miguel I. Gand#243;mez is Ruth and William Morgan Assistant Professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.