Random Squash Facts

Squash is a very old food crop. There is evidence of its cultivation going back at least 8,000 B.C in Central Mexico, Peru, and the Eastern United States. Squash (along with corn and beans) formed the staple diet of Mesoamerican Indians and made the creation of these empires possible.

In addition to its food value, many squashes were grown to be used as containers when dried (mostly the gourd type).
Cucurbit is a term used to describe all members of the Cucurbitaceae family. In addition to squash, this includes cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, and gourds.

Squash comes from the Narragansett Indian word "askutasquash." This roughly translates into "eaten raw or uncooked."

The game of squash and the verb "squash" (meaning to pound or flatten) have nothing to do with the vegetable. Regarding the game of squash, it used to be called "Rackets." However, the game uses a soft ball constructed of thin rubber that collapsed when hit hard; in effect it "squashed" during play. Eventually, the game itself came to be known as "squash." The verb "squash" is actually derived from a Latin word meaning "to shatter."

Virtually, the entire squash plant is edible. The leaves, tendrils, shoots, stems, flowers, seeds, and fruit can be eaten.
Presidents Washington and Jefferson both grew squashes in their gardens.

Squashes are commonly made into candies in Latin America.

Squashes are generally categorized into two types by backyard gardeners. "Summer" squash types are fast maturing (fruit in ~50 days), have thin rinds that are usually eaten, cannot be stored for long periods (two weeks at best), and are generally picked when immature. "Winter" squash types are take longer to mature (~100 days to maturity) have thick rinds that generally need to be peeled, are picked when completely mature and can be stored for several months.

Winter squashes are generally indeterminate (producing fruit at different times) and summer squashes are generally determinate (producing fruit all at once) or of "bush-type."

Worldwide production is difficult to quantify and summarize due to the nomenclature issues, the fact most squash is consumed locally, and the fact that squash is a relatively minor crop. Data seems to suggest that China and India make up at least half of worldwide production.

In 2011, the U.S. produced 743.8 million pounds of squash for fresh market valued at 283 million dollars. Florida leads the states in squash production, followed by New York, California, and North Carolina.

The U.S. is actually the world's largest importer of squash. In 2011, the U.S. imported more than 270,000 metric tons of squash in 2011 (95% of this from Mexico).

Squash is primarily used for the fresh market and is rarely processed.

Sioux Indians would cut pumpkins into strips, dry them, and weave them into mats for sitting and sleeping.

Squashes are mostly water, and thus are not a great source of calories. However, they do contain a number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.





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