When I think about the fall season and the holidays, I always think about food. My stomach starts to grumble. My mouth salivates. I can almost taste the delicious fare that I yearn for all throughout the year. And when the calendar reaches October and November, I know it is time. And one of my favorite fall dishes is pumpkin pie.
Unless you grab a pumpkin from the grocery store and roast it yourself, you’re going to make pumpkin pie from canned pumpkins. There is nothing wrong with doing that. When you get to the grocery aisle, you seek out a can that states “100% pure pumpkin.” But we’re here to tell you that these labels are not only misleading, but they also are downright not true. Here’s why…
Unless you roasted a pumpkin for your pie, your not eating pumpkin at all. These fall favorites have been lying to the American people for years. And the lie starts with the packaging of these puree pumpkins in a can. In a recent article, Food and Wine broke out hearts by telling us the truth. The ingredients in these canned pumpkin purees are not actually pumpkin. And that’s because of terminology the government uses, giving manufacturers a chance to skirt the truth in favor of higher profits.
Because the United States Department of Agriculture does not have definitive “gourd terminology,” producers of canned pumpkin use the cheapest gourds to fill their canned products and not real pumpkin.
The food that is being sold in those “100% pure pumpkin” cans is not pumpkin but squash. The reason for this switch, besides the affordability of squash, also has to do with taste.
As Food and Wine writes, “As it turns out, pumpkins can be fairly stringy and watery. Certain varieties of winter squash make a richer, sweeter puree that works way better for packing the now-ambiguous flavor we all love into our favorite fall dishes.”
Winter squash is an ambiguous term itself. It has many varieties, one of the most popular being butternut squash.
Libby’s, the brand which distributes some 85 percent of all canned pumpkin across the United States, grows a proprietary variety of winter squash that they sell as “pumpkin” in stores.
Food and Wine added, “Yes, well, it’s actually made from 100%, not pumpkin. The mix is made from a variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more). Libby’s, the brand that produces about 85% of the country’s canned “pumpkin” filling, has actually developed a certain variety of squash that they grow, package, and distribute to supermarkets across the country–all the while fooling innocent, trusting consumers into believing they’re eating a pumpkin.”
Because no one wants to eat squash pie, advertisers helped manufacturers continue to use “pumpkin” on the label of their products despite the blatant untruth to the statement.
The USDA can be very lenient when it comes to what they allow on food labels. For example, grated Parmesan cheese can include cellulose, which is really just wood byproduct.
What do you think about this fall food scandal?