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Oregon pumpkins aren't just for Halloween

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It’s one of the few vegetables grown in Oregon that can be a food as well as a decoration, especially this time of year. Pumpkins seem to be everywhere:

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Take a quick drive down the highway or on a country road and you will notice fields dotted with bright orange pumpkins right now– a sure sign that fall has arrived. Laura Barton with the Oregon Department of Agriculture says pumpkins and winter squash are among the many crops grown in the state:

BARTON:  “They’re just incredible vegetables that provide a lot of nutrition. They’re colorful. They’re fun to play with, they have great storage. They’re easy to cook. You can use them in a variety of ways, everything from savory to desserts.”  :17

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There are about 350 commercial farms in Oregon producing pumpkins with most of them grown for the fresh market, which is what is largely on display right now. But some growers provide pumpkins for processing:

BARTON:  “Many of our vegetables, including the winter squashes and pumpkins, are processed and made into things like frozen– you can get them already cubed up and ready to go– and in blends and made into purees.”  :12

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Oregon pumpkin ends up in baby food, pies, and even seasonal ice cream treats. Most states grow pumpkins and squash but Oregon’s eight million dollar industry supplies the needs of local processors and retailers. Whether they are carved, painted, or cooked, the Oregon pumpkin and other winter squashes are a staple over the next couple of months. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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BARTON says pumpkins grown in Oregon provide a delicious and healthy food while also being a seasonal tradition:

“At this time of year, they become very visible, too. You can be driving down, whether you are driving down the highway or a country road or one of the side rows, you see those pumpkin patches and fields full of pumpkins.”  :13

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BARTON says what makes pumpkins stand out also indicates something that is good for you:

“Anything with that bright, deep orange color is just full of vitamin A and they have fiber and they are just a very nutritious vegetable.”  :08

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