Before ever making a personal decision to not celebrate Halloween-although even more so now after making the decision-I’ve always been appalled upon seeing carved pumpkins in front of houses and elsewhere, knowing the pumpkin that was carved out and the disfigured pumpkins themselves are wasted. The amount of Halloween pumpkin carving waste has grown over the years, with more and more people celebrating Halloween, and more and more Halloween celebrators completely uninterested in using the carved out pumpkin pulp and seeds for food.
Then there’s the hollowed out Halloween pumpkin too; does anyone actually do anything with it after Halloween besides throw it away? The left-over outer portion of the pumpkin that was carved-more than likely, into some horrific, ghoulish jack-o’-lantern-many times sits out to rot well past Halloween and is no longer good for human consumption. Which brings me to why I first, as a young child, began to be appalled at carved Halloween pumpkins…
What I was taught so well as a young child I took to heart: People around the world don’t have enough to eat, so don’t waste food!
Let’s demonstrate how much food is wasted by persons that throw away the pumpkin meat and seeds they carved from an Halloween pumpkin and how many persons that don’t have anything to eat or even persons that don’t have enough to eat could be fed on the very same day Halloween celebrators are celebrating Halloween.
Waste Not, Want Not: Pumpkins Aplenty, Plenty Enough to Waste?
Halloween is primarily celebrated by people in the U.S.A., Canadians, Central and South Americans, and Western Europeans. It is celebrated more and more around the rest of the world, such as by Far and Middle Easterners, sometimes like Americans, sometimes not. Pumpkin carving or turnip carving go hand-in-hand with Halloween celebrations throughout much of the Halloween-celebrating world. Let’s stick with the biggest offenders though, people of the U.S.A.
For example, a yearly Halloween pumpkin carving celebration in Keene, New Hampshire-one of multiple cities that claim its the Halloween capital of the world-amasses tens of thousands of carved and lighted pumpkins. A recent record-breaking year at this particular pumpkin festival amassed 28,952 carved and lighted pumpkins in one place for garish and gaudy display. Not to be outdone, only a few years later, Boston, Massachusetts broke the record, amassing 30,128 stationary jack-o’-lanterns for an even more outlandish display.
Excluding pumpkins that are grown in the rest of the United States of America, the marketable yield of pumpkins out of the Great Lakes States region, which is the greatest pumpkin producing area, has averaged 15.4 tons per acre per year the past five years up through 2009. The Great Lakes States region produces marketable pumpkins on about 38,000 acres of land.
Multiplying 38,000 acres of land by 15.4 tons of pumpkins per acre of land equals 585,200 tons of pumpkins, which equals about 1.17 billion pounds. The average weight of a typical orange pumpkin used for Halloween decoration is about 13 pounds. How many pumpkins does that make? 90,030,769, or just over 90 million.
Here a Pumpkin, There a Pumpkin
According to the U.S. Census Bureau approximation, 115 million households now exist in the U.S., as of 2010. Knowing that not everyone celebrates Halloween, and further knowing that not everyone whom celebrates Halloween carves a pumpkin-much less two-a very rough estimate of how many households have at least one carved, disfigured pumpkin in front of its door or elsewhere is about one quarter of 115 million, or 28,750,000, in other words, 28 million and 750 thousand pumpkins.
The vast majority of the people whom do carve a pumpkin throw away both the pumpkin pulp and seeds and later the outer shell of the pumpkin. Three quarters, the vast majority, of 28,750,000 pumpkins is 21,562,500 pumpkins.
Multiplying 21,562,500 pumpkins by 13 pounds per pumpkin equals 280,312,500 pounds of pumpkin that gets wasted every Halloween season. That’s about one pound of pumpkin per person living in the U.S.A. What a waste!
Pumpkins Are Big; Big Enough to Feed the Hungry of the U.S.; Big Enough to Feed the World
According to a recent report from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, one in six persons, or about 50 million Americans, couldn’t afford to put food on the table at some point in 2008. Halloween pumpkins that were wasted should have fed those same 50 million Americans, and then some.
When feeding victims of disaster, the World Health Organization strives to ensure each person receives just under a pound to a pound and a quarter of food rations per day, equaling 1700 to 2000 calories. Each food ration consists of a basic grain ( e.g. rice ), a fat ( e.g. an oil ), and a protein rich food, such as dried fish.
Now pumpkins are especially known for vitamin content, particularly vitamin A, and don’t fit neatly into World Health Organization food rations. Nevertheless, the 11 million people that the Great Sichuan Earthquake left homeless should have been fed with the remaining 230 million-plus pounds of pumpkin that were wasted on Halloween in the U.S.A.
The Great Halloween Pumpkin Carving Conclusion
I’m completely certain the Creator of both us and pumpkins didn’t purpose people to carve pumpkins into images of monstrosities; demons, devils, and the like. How much more despicable to waste food to do so. I’m completely certain He disapproves of such goings-on, and how much more so when people don’t have enough to eat. Halloween pumpkin carving: What a Waste. Perhaps you too reading this article should take to heart the same admonition I did: People around the world don’t have enough to eat, so don’t waste food!
Pumpkin, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin
Halloween Around the World, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_around_the_world
U.S. Census Bureau, Number of Households, http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:qrDGHO1wIhIJ:www.census.gov/prod/1/pop/p25-1129.pdf+how+many+houses+are+in+the+us&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShuxUfz4NNe_anLP_
World Health Organization, Food and Nutrition in Disasters, http://www.amro.who.int/english/DD/PED/te_nutr.htm
2008 Sichuan Earthquake, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Sichuan_earthquake
Record Numbers Go Hungry in the U.S., The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/17/millions-hungry-households-us-report
Liz Maynard, Comparing Jack-O’-Lantern Varieties, American Vegetable Grower, http://www.growingproduce.com/americanvegetablegrower/?storyid=4038&style=1
Marketable Yield of Jack-O’-Lanterns, http://www.growingproduce.com/articles/image/AVG/2010/July/pumpkin