Editor’s note: The chat’s now over, but you can replay it in full.


Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations TRIPLED!

From Native American staple to livestock feed to early canned food and symbol of the American hearth, the pumpkin has made quite a journey in the last few centuries.

In her new book, Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon, University of St. Louis historian and professor Cindy Ott tracks the story of the most famous gourd. Ott looks at the evolution of the canned pumpkin industry (Libby’s still owns the bulk of the nation’s pumpkin farms) and the role this food has played in today’s local food movement. Ott writes, “The pumpkin fulfills many Americans’ desire to maintain connections to the mythical family farm lore, and it has rejuvenated many small farms in the process.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Join us on Halloween for a live chat and bring your pumpkin questions for Ott. We’ll discuss this year’s bumper crop (despite the drought) and whether or not it makes sense to buy an organic pumpkin for your jack-o’-lantern.