It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about Christmas. In this house, the most wonderful time of the year is Halloween – only because I married a Canadian. My husband, if given the opportunity, would turn our entire home into a haunted house each October. There would jump-scare skeletons popping out of closets and cobwebs dangling from our lighting fixtures. There’s a certain glee in his face as he orders pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks and he sets a line-up of spooky movies but there is one thing I won’t bend on – there will be no Jack O Lanterns. Not in my house. You see, in South Africa, Halloween isn’t a thing.
It’s barely noticed as a holiday here. Easter is huge, Christmas is larger still but Halloween barely makes a blip on the radar here, for which I am grateful. I struggle to watch Halloween celebrations around the world. Almost 20% of South African households had inadequate access to food in 2017. Food security is something experienced when all citizens have good access to a sufficient amount of safe and nutritious food to meet their daily needs. Food insecurity is what happens when you don’t have that and basic needs are not met. I live in a country where schools implement feeding schemes because it’s not a guarantee that these kids are being fed at home. South Africa already wastes more than enough food that should be going to those who are hungry and so to see the shameless global waste of pumpkins each October makes me want to throw something heavy – but not a pumpkin – at each and every person that thinks wasting food is okay.
Need a tasty idea for pumpkin pulp?
Try this Creamy, Spiced, Vegan Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Lemongrass soup recipe!
Here’s some perspective for you: each year, 10 million pumpkins are grown in the UK. Of those 10 million, 95% are used at Halloween and then chucked. That creates 18 000 tons of food waste. 18 000 tons of nourishment, gone. And it’s even worse in the USA – 900 000 tons of pumpkin is thrown away annually. You shouldn’t have to have come from a country where people go hungry to see a problem with this. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have your Jack O Lantern – although, to be honest, I do not understand how a hollow pumpkin provides this much joy. I’d also be interested to see ER statistics when it comes to carving injuries.
By all means, stick your pointy metal tools into food and add a candle for the purpose of amusement. I merely ask that you be responsible about it by using every little bit of the pumpkin that is edible. Instead of discarding the innards, why not puree them and use them for soup or pumpkin pie, instead of buying tins of the stuff? In South Africa, we don’t get pumpkin puree in cans so when I make pumpkin pie, I make it from pumpkin pieces instead – it’s doable and (as my Canadian informs me) equally delicious. Before you begin the carving, make sure that all the ‘meat’ of the pumpkin has been cut away and used for eating (or at worst, added to the compost heap) so that all that is left for your carving enjoyment is the shell of the vegetable. Chances are it’ll make cutting grotesque smiles easier and you won’t be contributing to the 1.3 billion tons of food that gets wasted each year in a world where 800 million people go hungry on a daily basis.
The only scary thing about Halloween is people who don’t care about food wastage.