When most people think of Maine’s signature crops, they think of blueberries and potatoes.
The other food items that quickly come up are lobster and maple syrup, although they’re obviously not harvested the same way.
But could an argument be made for pumpkins to join that proverbial Mount Rushmore of Maine food staples?
The gourds certainly enjoy the same celebratory reverence here. The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest, with its trademark regatta of pumpkin boats, draws thousands of people.
Maine-based Camp Sunshine was behind Boston’s world record for the most jack o’lanterns lit in a single location at one point, and narrowly missed setting the record on another occasion on Maine soil.
Here are three Maine pumpkin recipes from the award-winning Sarah Walker Caron, to hammer home that point:
The one thing missing from the pumpkin campaign as some kind of measure of how Maine’s production of the gourds compares to other states.
Maine’s potato crop at one point was the country’s largest, after all, and remains one of America’s top 10. Blueberries have an even bigger claim to Maine iconography, as the state is one of the world’s largest producers of the tasty berries.
How does the state’s pumpkin crop measure up?
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog released a map this week illustrating where America’s pumpkins are grown — that map can be viewed here — and it shows Maine as being one of relatively few states where the gourds are commercially harvested in every county.
Still, Maine doesn’t rank among the top five pumpkin-growing states, and one state in particular statistically seems to have the most compelling case to consider pumpkin its top crop: Illinois.
That state boasts that it grows 95 percent of the U.S. pumpkin crop intended for processing.
So we can certainly celebrate pumpkins here in Maine and even hollow them out to use as riverboats, but we can’t compete with that output.
The reign of blueberries and potatoes atop the Maine agriculture scene is probably safe.
But can you imagine how silly the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow would’ve looked with a blueberry for a head?