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Promoting Squash





Cool Stuff About Squash!

Did you know squash has been a staple for the Native Americans for more than 5000 years, and was a staple for early Europeans who settled in America? Squash are split into the “summer” and “winter” varieties. Summer squash tends to be smaller and the skin is tender. Zucchini is the most popular summer squash in the United States. Winter squash is harvested at the end of summer when the skin is hard. These can be stored in a cool place and eaten later. There are many varieties of squash, each with a unique shape, color, texture and flavor. The University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station released six varieties of squash from 1939 to 1994, starting with a winter variety named “Greengold.”

Squash is an excellent source of vitamin C and A, folic acid and fiber. Did you know the largest squash weighed 962 pounds and was grown in Ontario, Canada in 1997? You and your family can pick up some fresh local squash at the farmer’s market of area grocery store (look for the Minnesota Grown label). Bake squash for a tasty side dish or use the recipe in this month’s newsletter. Today at lunch you will have the opportunity to sample squash in FOOD ITEM from FARM NAME/CITY.


In [MONTH] your child tried [FOOD ITEM] with locally grown squash from [FARM NAME] in [CITY] . Prepare this delicious recipe with your family and ask your child(ren) if they can answer the following trivia questions.

  1. Squash has been a staple in the diet of __________for more than 5000 years.
  2. There are many varieties of squash. Each has four unique characteristics. Can you name them?
  3. Squash is a good source of which two vitamins?

Trivia Answers

  1. Native Americans. Native peoples developed a wide variety of different squashes, each suited to the particular climate of a tribe's home area.
  2. Shape, color, texture and flavor. The University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station released six varieties of squash from 1939 to 1994, starting with a winter variety named “Greengold.”
  3. Vitamins C and A. Squash is also a good source of folic acid and fiber.

MS Word version of Newsletter


History and Origin

  • The English word "squash" derives from askutasquash (literally "a green thing eaten raw"), a word from the Narragansett language. This was documented by Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, in his 1643 publication A Key Into the Language of America. Similar words for squash exist in related languages of the Algonquian family such as Massachusett.
  • Zucchini was taken to Spain from South America in the 16th century and was grown in Italy 300 years ago. The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s


  • Squash is free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. As such, it fits into a healthy diet that may help reduce the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Squash contains fiber; vitamins A, C, B6, and B1; potassium, and folate. It has also been found to contain other natural plant chemicals that may help prevent cancer.

Did you know…?

  • Squash is technically a fruit, because it contains the plant’s seeds, but is treated like a vegetable. In addition to the fruit, squash seeds can be eaten directly, ground into paste, or (particularly for pumpkins) pressed for vegetable oil. The shoots, leaves, and tendrils can be eaten as greens. The blossoms are an important part of Native American cooking and are also used as food in many other parts of the world.
  • Squash was originally cultivated for its seeds.
  • Varieties of summer squash include chayote, patty pan, yellow crookneck, yellow straightneck and zucchini.
  • Varieties of winter squash include acorn, banana, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, delicata, golden nugget, hubbard, spaghetti, sweet dumpling, turban and pumpkin.
  • Columbus brought squash to Europe from the Americas.
  • Both summer and winter squash belong to the plant family that contains melons and cucumbers, and come in many different shapes and colors. Even though some varieties grow on vines and others grow on bushes, squash are commonly divided into two groups, summer and winter.
  • Zucchini is sometimes called Italian squash, green squash, or summer squash. Zucchini seeds are soft and edible.
  • Zucchini is an easy vegetable to grow and has a reputation of producing all summer long!

How to Eat Squash

  • Cook and mash winter squash and add to soups, casseroles, pies, cakes, breads, soufflés, and muffins.
  • Serve roasted and mashed winter squash as a simple side dish with butter, salt and pepper.
  • Use summer squashes raw in salads or with dips.
  • Grate raw summer squash and add to soups, casseroles, pies, cakes, breads, souffles, and muffins. Grated raw summer squash can be substituted for the carrots in carrot cake!
  • Try stir-frying several varieties of summer squash together. This will make a colorful side dish.
  • Marinate and grill summer squash — what a great taste!
  • Try adding some of your favorite seasonings (dill, lemon juice or lemon pepper, Creole, chili powder) to summer squash that has been steamed, sautéed, or grilled.
  • Add sliced squash with dried tomatoes to rice when you cook it.

The above information was compiled from:


Tasting Poster (745 K PDF)

Table Top Trifold (931 K PDF)

Index Card (561 K PDF)


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bins of squash

Bins of Squash

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
squash and blossom

Squash with Blossom

photo by Brett Olson
Renewing the Countryside
basket of squash

Basket of Squash

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
winter squash

Variety of Winter Squash

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
summer squash

Variety of Summer Squash

photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market


photo by Kent Lorentzen
Grand Rapids Farmers' Market
variety of winter squash

Variety of Winter Squash

photo by Dave Hansen
Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station
University of Minnesota


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