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Food & Hunger

This Halloween, Britain Will Waste 13 Million Pumpkins Because Most Don't Realise the Insides Are Edible

Why Global Citizens Should Care
One-third of all food the world produces for human consumption gets binned, all while food poverty exists both at home and abroad. It’s an abhorrent contradiction that we can begin to overcome with simple lifestyle changes. Perhaps we could start with Halloween? Take action on global malnutrition here.

Halloween is coming — and, terrifyingly, so is food waste.

Britain is set to buy a colossal 24 million pumpkins in 2020. But over half (12.8 million) will be thrown away.

And it turns out that's because many people don't know that the inside of a pumpkin is edible.

Hubbub, a sustainability charity, conducted a survey with 3,000 British adults, and found out that just 42% knew that they were able to eat the insides of a pumpkin.

The sheer volume of the squash plant that will go to waste, the charity said, would be enough to feed the whole country with pumpkin pie. 

Britain grows approximately 10 million pumpkins a year, the Guardian reported last year, and 95% of those will be used just for Halloween. Overall, only Christmas beats Halloween on festive money spent by consumers. 

But food waste isn't limited to Halloween alone. Every year, the UK sends 15 million tonnes of food to landfill, including 7 million tonnes exclusively from households — costing the average British person about £300 a year, or £15 billion as a whole country (about the same as the UK's international aid budget).

Yet across the world, a third of all food produced for human consumption — around 1.3 billion tonnes — goes to waste, while at the same time there are 820 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat.

“Pumpkins are a valuable source of food and are not just for decoration,” said Tessa Tricks, head of food programmes at Hubbub. “Even if it’s labelled a carving pumpkin, you can still eat it and it will taste delicious with spices like chilli, ginger, or cumin."

“We know that over lockdown many people developed a love of cooking from scratch and are valuing food more, so we’re urging people to make the most of every part of this nutritious and versatile food," she added. "Every pumpkin eaten is a step towards tackling the 6.6 million tonnes of food and drink thrown away from UK homes every year.”

Half of the country celebrates Halloween. But Hubbub have said that of the 12.8 million pumpkins set to be thrown away, 2 million end up in household waste bins, rather than being composted, left for birds, or put in the food bin.

While some are ornamental, the vast majority are edible — and can easily be whipped up into delicious waffles, risotto, curry, or tarts. You can even eat the seeds!