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the main product in Europe, as in Latin America, is this gourd's pleasing and penetrating fragrance that will perfume a whole house.


The Andes. In the Andes, as in some other parts of the world, squashes are considered to be food for the poor. Unfortunately, this means that they have not received the scientific recognition and research funding they deserve. This should not continue. Because they are so easy to grow and so well liked, efforts to introduce pest-resistant strains and improved modes of cultivation could bring big benefits to some of the neediest people in the hemisphere.

Other Developing Areas. “Pumpkins” and “squashes” have vast potential in subsistence farming. They are exceptionally attractive to peoples lacking ready means of food preservation. And they are outstanding as multipurpose plants. As noted, the young fruits, mature fruits, seeds, and even flowers can serve as food.

The germplasm of the Andes—home to many cucurbits for thousands of years—is especially important for the entire developing world. Currently, many Third World countries (Ethiopia, for example) have only one or at best a small number of squashes, and even those have almost no genetic variation. Thus, by and large, people outside Latin America are unaware of the wealth of types available.

Industrialized Regions. Cucurbits now grow throughout the temperate world and contribute a wide variety of products ranging from the Halloween pumpkin of the United States to the glasshouse cucumber of England. The important cultivated species are major market crops in North America, southern Europe, and temperate Asia. In addition, there is large commercial production of cucumbers in a number of more northern countries.

However, the types that remain in the Andes are an important unexploited resource. The squashes on the dinner tables of the future could be far more colorful and tasty than those of today. Cucurbits are excellent food for those who require acid-free diets. Most are noted for their keeping qualities.13

Moreover, the casabanana, with its penetrating fragrance, and the achocha, with its eye-catching shaggy appearance, could both make unusual specialty-produce items in many wealthy countries.

13 Recently in Florida, for example, the crookneck has been found superior to the Cuban calabaza for shipping to distant northern markets. Information from J. Morton.

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