Apples or pumpkins?

This might fall into a "they purport, I deride" category, but I can report I am not the only statehouse journalist who saw these two news releases and laughed. Patty Judge, Iowa’s current Secretary of Agriculture and the Democratic Party’s 2006 nominee for Lieutenant Governor, issued a news release on October 2 with a headline that blared:

Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge Reminds Iowans October is ‘Apple Month’

For Immediate Release:
October 2, 2006

140 Iowa Apple Growers Provide a Nutritious Abundance of the Delectable Fruit

(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge reminded Iowans today that October is ‘Apple Month’.  Judge encouraged Iowans to buy and enjoy apples as part of a healthy diet.

“We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Although that may not be entirely accurate – it is true that apples can help us lead healthier lives as an excellent source of dietary fiber and vitamins.  Apples are also fat, sodium and cholesterol free,” Secretary Judge stated.

For nutrition’s sake, it is best to eat apples with their skin on. Nearly half of the vitamin C content lies just underneath the skin of the apple. Apple skins also increase the fiber content.

The 2006 projected production for Iowa is 4.5 million pounds of apples (112,500 bushels), in comparison; the 2005 Iowa’s apple crop came in at 2.1 million pounds and 52,400 bushels.  The 2006 production forecast is significantly up from previous years because the growing conditions were especially good this year (The 2005 season brought a late hard freeze that damaged some of the apple crop.)

While the Red Delicious, Jonathan and McIntosh apples are quite popular in Iowa, producers are continuing to offer more choices to consumers by growing newer varieties such as Fuji, Gala, and Honey crisp.

Iowa apples will keep best when stored at temperatures between 35-40 degrees. The refrigerator is ideal, but garages or basements are also good choices for storage. A plastic perforated bag will help the apples stay fresh longer.

That’s the ‘skinny’ on Iowa’s apple industry. Enjoy Iowa’s beautiful autumn and celebrate ‘Apple Month’ by visiting your local farmers’ market or apple orchard. For the name of the orchard nearest you, check out the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s web site at and click on the apple directory listing.

This was immediately followed the next day by another “reminder” from Judge:

Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge Reminds Iowans That Autumn is Always ‘Pumpkin Season’

For Immediate Release:
October 3, 2006
(Des Moines, IA) Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge reminded Iowans today that autumn is always ‘Pumpkin Season’ in Iowa.  Judge encourages Iowans to buy and enjoy Iowa grown pumpkins as part of their family traditions this holiday season.

Pumpkins were used by Native Americans as a staple in their diets for centuries, long before the pilgrims arrived in America.  The first Thanksgiving feast featured the fruit in 1620. It is also widely known that, from that time forward, pumpkins have continued to be a tradition at the Thanksgiving feast.

We all know that pumpkins make delicious holiday pies, cookies and breads, look great carved for Halloween, and the seeds make a tasty roasted snack. There is great nutritional value in Pumpkins, too. They contain potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and folate. Pumpkins are cholesterol free and contain beta carotene (which may help reduce certain types of cancer and lowers the risk of heart disease.) These are just some of the good reasons to eat this delectable fruit.

“Iowa has over eighty (80) pumpkin producers.  Many of these producers have ‘pick your own’ pumpkin patches dotted across the state. For the name of the pumpkin patch nearest you, check out the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Diversification and Marketing Development Bureau directory of producers at: and click on ‘directories’.  Also available is a map with pumpkin and apple orchard locations across the state.  To look at the map, log onto our website and click on the apple and pumpkin maze map that is under ‘promotions’. If you would like a map sent to you, Please call 515/281-7656 and we’ll be happy to send you one.

Gird yourselves. November will probably be gourd month. December is definitely going to be Christmas Tree month.  What will January be — ice sculpture month? Will February be snow ball month?  The mind boggles.

But perhaps we now know what role Secretary Judge might serve in a Culver Administration – the "reminder."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.