Let’s talk about pumpkins.
I’m not a fan of pumpkin, but I do appreciate their versatility and I love that during the Hallowe’en season so many people take opportunity of the pumpkin carving tradition to explore cooking at home. Whether it’s soups, pies, cupcakes, or cookies, the insides of that gourd-like squash have a huge number of uses, and anything that encourages people to cook more food instead of ordering in is a good thing.
However, around my neighbourhood I see another use for pumpkins: They’re left uncarved and whole to rot on peoples’ stoops. I’ve realised this year just what a waste this is and it’s really bothering me, so you get to read all about my feelings here, the only soap-box I have.
I did some calculations because I’m a nerd: According to the Bay Area census, there are about 320,000 households in San Francisco, of which about 140,000 are family households, and 55,000 have children under 18. If we assume that the pumpkins that are carved belong to the families with children, one-in-three of the remaining family households put out non-carved pumpkins, and one-in-ten of the non-family households put out non-carved pumpkins, we’re looking at a little over 45,000 households with uncarved pumpkins. Looking around my neighbourhood, each household with uncarved pumpkins has between three and five out there, which gives 180,000 uncarved pumpkins. Pumpkins at my local supermarket cost between two and five dollars each, giving a final total of 630,000 dollars just rotting away on stoops across San Francisco.
If you extrapolate this across the US, you’re looking at millions of dollars wasted. And to add insult to injury, it’s wasted on perfectly good food that many families around the world, even in the US, go without every day.
So please, if you’re thinking of putting out some pumpkins and you’re not carving them, or even emptying them, think again. There are plenty of charities out there that would love to use that money to feed hungry people, or help to find cures and treatments for diseases, care for unwanted animals, or buy people goats. Failing that, just empty the pumpkins out and make some cupcakes.
Yes, I am a miserable sod when it comes to Hallowe’en. Don’t get me started on ‘sexy’ Chewbacca (sorry – Sci-fi Furry) costumes.