Halloween horror! Millions of pumpkins wasted

Trick or treat? A recent survey found that only 42% of Brits knew that they were able to eat the insides of a pumpkin. © Alamy

Should we give up carving pumpkins? Supermarkets are preparing to sell more than 24 million pumpkins this year for the popular Halloween tradition. But more than half will be thrown away.

What’s happening

On Saturday, millions of people around the world will dress up and watch frightening films. They may even decorate their homes with cobwebs.

As the sun sets, many of them will light their carefully carved pumpkins. Windows everywhere will shine with spooky, ghostly faces. Halloween is here.

Find out more

Carving a pumpkin is one of the most popular Halloween traditions. It started in Ireland, where people cut faces into large turnips and potatoes. When they arrived as colonists in North America, they found the large pumpkins much easier to carve.

This year, people all over Britain are planning to carve a pumpkin. But many will not eat the flesh, throwing it away instead.

One charity predicts that 13 million pumpkins will be wasted. It says this would be enough to feed the whole country a slice of pumpkin pie.

Food waste does not only happen at Halloween. Every year, the UK sends 15 million tonnes of food to landfill. Meanwhile, there are 820 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat.

Should we give up pumpkin carving?

Some say…

Yes! It may be fun to make spooky faces, but the food waste is even scarier. Pumpkins are a valuable source of food. We should not play with them and use them for decoration. People around the world are starving, and we are throwing away food for fun. There are other ways to celebrate – like buying reusable plastic pumpkins.

Others think…

No. We don’t need to stop pumpkin carving. All we need to do is remember to eat the insides! Pumpkin flesh is delicious in soups, pies and cakes. Even the seeds can be dried and enjoyed as a tasty snack. You should only give up carving the pumpkin if you decide before that you do not want to eat it.

You Decide

  1. Halloween is one of many festivals that take place around the year. Which is your favourite?


  1. After carving your pumpkin, try out this recipe for Halloween pumpkin cake to use up the flesh.

Some People Say...

“There is food for everyone on this planet, but not everyone eats.”

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement that celebrates local, hand-prepared food.

What do you think?

Word Watch

The tradition of Halloween goes back to an ancient Celtic festival, when people would light fires and wear costumes to scare away ghosts. It takes its name from a Christian day marked on 31 October called “All hallows’ eve”.
Carved pumpkins are also known as jack-o’-lanterns, a name that came from the Irish people who originally put lamps inside turnips and potatoes.
People who move to a new place and set up a colony. Many Irish people travelled to North America to join colonists who had set up communities there.
Hubbub is a food charity that helps people who do not have enough to eat.
One tonne is equal to 1,000 kg.
A place used for waste disposal. It works by throwing away waste and burying it in the ground. There, it is not recycled and food cannot break down naturally.
Something very important and precious.

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