It's the great pumpkin

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It's that time of year when bins of pumpkins are strategically placed in the front of grocery stores and kids are visiting pumpkin farms to pick just the right pumpkin to place on the front porch.

Picking a pumpkin to carve has long been a tradition for many around the world but pumpkins have a long history in this part of the world. According to www.pumpkinpatch.com it is believed that pumpkins originated in North America and that the seeds from pumpkin related plants date back to Mexico around 7000 to 5000 B.C.

Although the name originated from the Greek word pepon, which means large melon, the pumpkin is actually not a melon but a squash and is a member of the Cucurbita family. The name was changed by the French to pumpon and later on by the English to pumpion.

The Native Americans used pumpkins as a staple in their diets. It is believed they introduced the pumpkins to the colonists who can take the credit for inventing pumpkin pie. The colonists would slice the top off the pumpkins, remove the seeds and then fill the pumpkin with milk, spices and honey. They would then bake it in the hot ashes of a dying fire.

Pumpkins aren't just made into pies. Other items made with pumpkin incude breads, muffins, soups, sauces, roast pumpkin slices, pudding, cookies, chili, pancakes, soufflés and let's not forget roasting pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack.

Some facts that many people don't know about pumpkins is that they are 90 percent water and contain potassium, calcium and phosphorous. They are also filled with vitamins A, B, C and E and have plenty of fiber.

According to www.livestrong.com eating pumpkin can protect one's heart and protects against diabetes and cancer.

There are many different varieties of pumpkins. Baby bears, small sugar, winter luxury, autumn gold, bushkin, harvest moon, Jack o Lantern, big Tom and Kentucky Field are just a few. The Rouge Vif d' Estampes was the prototype for the pumpkin that turned into a carriage in the Walt Disney film “Cinderella.” Some pumpkins are actually hybrids.

If you don't have plans to carve the pumpkin or eat it you might consider doing what many do every year, enter it in a contest. That is if it's big enough. The world record for the world's largest pumpkin has been broken twice recently. On Sept. 27 Steve Geddes broke the record with his 1,843.50 pound pumpkin at the Deerfield Fair in New Hampshire. The previous record was 1,810 pounds which was set in October 2010. But Geddes only got to bask in his glory for a mere 24 hours because the next day at the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts Ron Wallace's pumpkin weighed in at 2,009 pounds.

That's a lot of pumpkin pies. But even that record could be shattered because there are a lot of pumpkins out there.