'Veggie Pledge' pumpkin tells all under Q&A grilling
Following is an "interview" with a pumpkin, one of the several ways that the Veggie Pledge campaign is using to promote greater consumption of vegetables by all Fairfield residents, particularly the younger set.
Q: Pepon, may I call you Pepon? That is a very unusual name, how did you get it?
A: Thank you so much for having me today. You can just call me Pumpkin. Pepon was my given name; in Greek, it literally means "large melon." Nice huh? See why we prefer to be called pumpkins?
Q: Yes, I can see why -- large melon, quite an unfortunate name. So Pumpkin, what was your reaction when you first heard that you were selected as the Vegetable of the Month?
A: Well, I must say, I was quite surprised, especially considering that from a botanical standpoint I am really a fruit. You see, I have seeds. Any of us with seeds are technically fruits. And let me tell you, a lot of us fruits are misunderstood -- cucumbers, peppers, squash. Not to mention my poor buddy the tomato. Thinks he's a fruit and then the Supreme Court rules in 1893 that he's a vegetable for tax purposes! Talk about confusing. "Vegetable" isn't even a scientific term, it is a culinary term. Besides when you think about it, I make a better fruit than a vegetable. Not a lot of vegetable pies being baked for Thanksgiving desserts, are there? Don't get me wrong -- I'm still honored to have been selected.
Q: So why do you think they picked you to represent October?
A: I have to say that I am a well-rounded individual and a global representative. Did you know that pumpkins are grown on six of the seven continents? My flowers are edible. My seeds are edible and they were even used for medicinal purposes by the Native Americans. I provide potassium and Vitamin A. I am low in calories and rich in antioxidants. Pumpkins are used in soups, pies, breads, ravioli and pasta, and to feed animals. And did you know that about 80 percent of the U.S. pumpkin supply is available in October? Coincidence? I think not. I am the perfect pick for October.
Q: Can you tell our readers a little more about yourself? What do you like to do in your free time? What is your favorite television show? Do you enjoy live music?
A: It generally takes a pumpkin about 85 to 125 days to grow. So we do have a lot of free time to just hang out on the vine. One of my cousins on my mother's side had a bit role in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." So that is a family favorite. We get taken to a lot of fall festivals to be used for decorations, so I do get to hear a lot of great bands, although I am not a big fan of the Smashing Pumpkins, for obvious reasons. And speaking of that, have you heard of this awful sporting contest called Punkin Chunkin? The YouTube videos are ghastly. How can they put that on the Science Channel and call it quality programming?
Q: Now that your Vegetable of the Month reign is almost over, what are you going to do next?
A: I'm going to Disney World! No, really, I am. Seems some of the French Heirloom varieties that they call Cinderella Pumpkins went on strike, so they need some extra guys to work the Cinderella coach float in the Disney parade.
Q: Do you find a lot of pressure in your industry to have that perfect look?
A: Oh, yes, it is brutal out there. Some of my colleagues even feel like they have to get work done to stay in with the crowd, you know, they go under the knife. It's a shame. You can always tell who has had it done, their eyes and mouths just never look the same. I get my orange glow naturally, not like those crazy Jack O'Lanterns with their fancy candles and everything. Speaking of Jack, have you heard this one? How do you fix a broken Jack O'Lantern? With a pumpkin patch! Ahhhh, I love that one.
Q: On that note I think it is time we wrap things up. But one last question before we go. Have you heard any news about who will be chosen as Vegetable of the Month for November?
A: Well, I heard through the vine that it might be one of my squash cousins, but that's only a rumor going around. I guess everyone will just have to check back here next month to find out!
Michele Meehan is member of Fuel for Learning Partnership, a PTA standing committee that includes representatives from across the school district. She represents Jennings Elementary School. A mother of two, Meehan is also the co-chairwoman of the Jennings School garden and vice president of communications for the Jennings PTA.