Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods in the world by a wide variety of metrics, especially considering how rich they are in key minerals that help fight stress.
Despite their humble size, just .25 cups of pumpkin seeds can provide nearly half (45%) of your daily recommended value of magnesium according to the website WHFoods.org, which is absolutely crucial in today’s stressful world (magnesium is the first mineral your body dumps when stressed).
Pumpkin seeds can also provide 20% of your daily value of protein and 23% of your daily value of zinc, another much-needed mineral.
Despite these benefits, there’s one thing health conscious consumers should know before their next purchase: a connection between Chinese imports and pumpkin seeds that most people don’t realize until it’s too late.
China: The World’s Top Producer of Pumpkins (by a Wide Margin)
Worldwide pumpkin production doubled over the past decade according to a 2017 report from Reuters, but China has been leaving all other countries in the dust.
The country overtook the previous leader, India, and managed to produce over seven million tons of pumpkins in 2017 — more than the next two highest finishers, India and Russia, combined.
With a booming pumpkin industry has also come a boon for Chinese pumpkin seed producers. The seeds are exported across the world to be used in snack foods, to the point where an estimated 75 percent of the pumpkin seeds sold in the United States are imported from China according to two major American pumpkin seed producers, Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods in Geneva, New York, and Autumn Seed in Corvallis, Oregon, as quoted in a report from the New York Times.
Chinese pumpkin seeds have managed to take over the U.S. market in large part since cheap labor for hulling the seeds keeps the price well below what American producers charge.
As a result, cheaply produced Chinese pumpkin seeds have oversaturated the market, and many American pumpkin seed producers are being left unable to compete.
The Chinese pumpkin seed connection is so ubiquitous that even premium organic and natural brands in health food stores across the U.S. often use pumpkin seeds from China in their products — a potential problem considering that imported Chinese food may be riddled with health and quality concerns including potential heavy metal contamination, environmental pollution, and ongoing concerns including a possible lack of oversight and a likely higher risk for organic food fraud.
A quick glance at many of the pumpkin seed products at health food stores, whether organic or not, trail mix based or individual pumpkin seeds, reveals just how often the words “product of China” appear on these food packages.
Where to Find American Grown Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re looking for pumpkin seeds from American producers, the aforementioned two sources, Stony Brook and Autumn Seed, are worth checking out.
Another U.S. pumpkin seed company, Wilderness Poets, imports their seeds from Austria and grows them in the famous Wilamette Valley in Oregon, a hotbed for organic agriculture known for its culinary scene.
While a little less than 30 bucks may seem like a lot for two pounds of pumpkin seeds, the expense may be worth it considering how hard it is to find legitimately sourced organic pumpkin seeds grown in the U.S. anywhere at the health food store, or at the grocery store for that matter.
As always, the best thing you can do is grown your own or know your local organic farmer to ensure that you get the best quality for the best price.
For more information on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds, check out their WHFoods.org page here. This article contains affiliate links and we may earn commissions based on purchases; see our full disclaimer here.