This Is The Country That Eats The Most Pumpkin

For many people in the U.S., fall means pumpkin season. Pumpkin spice lattes and, really, pumpkin-spiced everything may be a fairly recent phenomenon, but it's tough to imagine Halloween ever happening without carving jack-o-lanterns, and finding your pick at a charmingly rustic patch. Not to mention — can it even really be Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? America is truly obsessed with gourds this time of year, despite their humble origins as a food of last resort for the pilgrims (via Time). Given the country's near obsession, at least during the fall season, you'd think that the U.S. would easily top the charts when it comes to pumpkin consumption. Surprisingly, that's not the case.

According to Global Trade, the U.S. came behind several other countries in terms of volume of pumpkin consumption in 2018. Topping the list were China (7.9 million tonnes), India (5.9 million tonnes), and Russia (1.3 million tonnes). While this statistic may seem surprising, it really isn't when you consider overall population (though the U.S. doesn't break the top three on a per capita basis either), and the popularity of pumpkin elsewhere in the world — especially in China.

Pumpkin has been popular in China for centuries

Pumpkin was thought to have been introduced in China during the Ming Dynasty around 1368 CE, and was originally used as an offering by the Imperial family (via Flavor & Fortune). Poets and artists would also carve poems or patterns on pumpkins (via China Daily), not entirely unlike the jack-o-lanterns of today. Later on, gourds became popular for poor families celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, when people couldn't always afford the more costly mooncakes traditionally used to celebrate the occasion. There is even a legend of a poor Chinese girl whose ill parents miraculously recovered after she fed them some pumpkins (via Legacy of Taste). Given how nutritious pumpkin is — it's considered a superfood and a good source of fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, and numerous minerals according to Healthline – there may be some truth to that legend.

There are many ways to enjoy pumpkin in Chinese food as well, including pumpkin soup, pumpkin dumplings, pumpkin fried with salted egg yolk, and as a fried pumpkin cake dessert (via The World of Chinese). The Beijinger also recommends some fusion dishes to try for Thanksgiving, such as muffins, pancakes, cakes, and buns. It's no wonder then that not only does China consume the most pumpkins in the world, it also produces the most pumpkins as well, says Nation Master.