Halloween wouldn’t be the same without pumpkins! Their plump little bright orange faces have been used for many a moon to scare away all manner of ghosts and ghouls, but apparently, this most supernatural of all the fruits is causing grave concern in some quarters.
The Guardian reports that this Halloween, households in the UK will toss an estimated 8 million of pumpkins into the trash with their flesh still uncooked and uneaten.
To put that into numbers we can understand as consumers, that’s the equivalent of enough pumpkin pies to feed the entire population of Great Britain.
Crazy, hey? And wasteful to boot. To be fair, pumpkin eating has never been a big thing with the Brits. Most of them will go their entire life without sampling the delights of a slice of homemade pumpkin pie. But here’s the truly terrifying thing. Pumpkin eating is also on the decline in the U.S., which is a tragedy because America is where the pumpkin first became a part of Halloween custom.
In Britain, the ancient Celts referred to Halloween as Samhain and saw it as the last gasp of summer before old man winter set up camp and made everyone’s life a misery with nothing but the cold dark to haunt their bones until Spring.
They also saw it as the one night of the year when the dead could come back to life and walk amongst the living.
The exact customs observed in each Celtic region differed, but they generally involved the lighting of bonfires and the reinforcement of boundaries so that malicious spirits couldn’t come calling and get up to god knows what.
The Celts also used to carve scary faces into turnips and swedes to ward off evil spirits but it wasn’t until the Irish immigrants settled in America, discovered pumpkins and thought, “these things will work a 100 times better,” that a new Halloween tradition was born.
Pumpkins have been grown in North America for more than 5,000 years. Their flesh is high in fiber and beta-carotene, and they are considered an extremely nutritious fruit. But after they are hollowed out, lit up, and put on display, many are sent to landfill without ever making it to the dinner table.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the vast majority of Americans didn’t eat the 1.91 billion pounds of pumpkins grown in the U.S. in 2014.
Which seems a horrific waste of food.
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, they are full of antioxidants, will boost your immune system, have a low-calorie count, and are full of nutrients which promote healthy skin. What’s not to like?
So this year when your prize pumpkins have finished their job of keeping the evil spirits at bay whilst not celebrate a job well done by eating them?