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Fall flavor favorite

This time of year means different things to different people. For most farmers, it means harvest, a time when others have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But for some, it’s the changing of the leaves that signals the onset of autumn. For others, it’s the smell of a wood burning stove lingering in the air. For still others, it’s the arrival of two little words: pumpkin spice.

Clearly, there is something about pumpkins that is appealing to almost everyone, and it’s interesting to discover the newest pumpkin spice products each fall. Forget pumpkin spiced lattes; they’re so last year. Who needs them when you can have the flavor you crave in Oreos, Pringles, Jell-O pudding, marshmallows, vodka, Eggos, Coffee-mate, hummus, M&M’s, yogurt and chewing gum, just to name a few.

Not everyone is a fan, though, and those who think the pumpkin spice marketing frenzy has gone too far have started to chime in to illustrate. To add to the interesting fictional products list, one of my Facebook friends exclaimed, “Finally! I can break out my pumpkin spice toilet paper!” So before you get excited about a pumpkin spice burrito, you might double check to make sure it’s not a hoax.

Then, there are those who believe in pumpkin moderation, that pumpkin spice may not be a good thing on everything. For me, pumpkin is good for pie about once a year. I like pumpkin, but too much of a good thing is, well, too much of a good thing.

To take it beyond the flavor and make it an experience might be the key to extending the enjoyment of the seasonal favorite. Pumpkins are a small-scale specialty crop in Missouri and have been grown in North America for 5,000 years. October is the best month to find pumpkins available, as 80 percent of the crop is harvested during this time.

Finding pumpkins to harvest yourself is easy. There are some 30 pumpkin patches across the state registered on the MFB online agritourism database. In addition to a pumpkin patch, many also have corn mazes, petting zoos, hayrides and fall decorations available.

In the meantime, while you’re planning your trip to a local pumpkin patch or festival, carving up your jack-o’-lanterns or creating a one-of-a-kind fall table centerpiece, did you know there are pumpkin spice-flavored Twinkies?

Rebecca French Smith, of Columbia, Missouri is a multimedia specialist for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization

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