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Does Your Pumpkin Spice Come From the Farm or the Factory?

Does the thought of "pumpkin spice season" have you feeling like a kid on Christmas morning?


It used to start making an appearance with the beginning of cooler temperatures and the first signs of fall.

Now, every year it seems to start earlier and earlier…this year, Starbucks started serving its beloved pumpkin spice latte before the end of August!



Love it or hate it?

Some of you may love the cozy comfort that comes with pumpkin spice, especially on a crisp, cool fall day.  For others, this craze may have finally become too much of a good thing and the thought of pumpkin spice may send you running in the other direction!

Believe it or not, there are now almost 500 products featuring pumpkin spice flavor on the package!  And, according to Nielsen, sales for pumpkin-flavored products reached almost $500 million in the past year!

During your next trip to the store, pay attention and look around -- you will see pumpkin spice has found its way into chips, cereals, whipped cream, yogurt, granola bars, Twinkies, Oreos, M&Ms, cupcakes, almonds, donuts, gum and much more!


Why do we love it so much?

Limited time fascination!  There is actually a psychological theory behind the "get it while you can" urgency, called reactance theory.  This explains why certain things are more attractive when we know we can't have them all the time.

There is even science behind our warm and fuzzy emotions.  When we attach feelings (or flavors), to the things we love about fall such as changing leaves, crisp cool temperatures, cozy sweaters, and the excitement of upcoming comforts us, improves our mood, and brings on nostalgic feelings.


Is it good for you?

True pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and sometimes includes actual pumpkin.  These are the natural (REAL!) combination of flavors that make up pumpkin spice…and come from plants.

The star ingredient, cinnamon, is rich in cell-protecting antioxidants, and when your pumpkin spice includes pumpkin, you are getting huge nutritional benefits to help fight cancer and improve heart health including Vitamin A, antioxidants like beta-carotene, plus fiber and Vitamin C.



Buyer beware -- looks can be deceiving!

As you can imagine, when it comes to many pumpkin spice flavored products, it's a processed food paradise!

Have you seen the pumpkin spiced Oreos and M&Ms?

Believe it or not, many of these processed foods contain no REAL pumpkin spice, but instead include an artificially flavored combination that includes synthetic chemicals manufactured to taste like pumpkin spice and make our brains think we are eating pumpkin pie.

For example, here are the ingredients in Pumpkin Spice Oreos:

Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Folic Acid), Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Artificial and Natural Flavor, Paprika Oleoresin (Color), Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake).

Where’s the pumpkin?!  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but as you can see, this is not the REAL deal!


Good news!

You can become a pumpkin spice expert at home…healthfully and deliciously!  It's easier than you think to make pumpkin spiced drinks and smoothies at home, and enjoy a variety of comforting meals and sweet treats:

Pumpkin Spice Latte (and then after pumpkin spice season, enjoy this as a Turmeric Latte)

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Harvest Pumpkin Bars

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

Fall Pumpkin Salad

Pecan Streusel Pumpkin Pie

Crockpot Quinoa Pumpkin Chicken Stew

Cinnamon Pumpkin Cornbread

Pumpkin Poppers

Make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice:  combine 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp allspice, and 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves.


Remember, it's not about depriving yourself -- enjoy your favorite pumpkin spice treat while you can and in moderation.  And, if you haven't already, read those ingredient labels to know exactly what you are getting.

Try some of our Eat REAL America ideas!

You might be can satisfy your pumpkin spice craving, reap the health benefits, and save some money in the process!


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