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
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
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
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
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
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
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.