Sunday, November 03, 2019

Abandoned Halloween pumpkins

I’m really not sure most Britons realise that pumpkins can actually be eaten; according to The Guardian, some eight million (or 18,000 tonnes) squashes per year are binned after being carved out for Halloween.

In the States, pumpkin pie has long been a post-Halloween tradition (usually on Thanksgiving at the end of November), but the concept hasn't taken off here. Seeing as I'd stolen one from the Eden Project (I will explain), risking arrest and sore shoulders (it weighed a ton in my backpack), H said the least she could do was make a pumpkin pie with it. I've always loved the concept of pumpkin pie (probably from American movies), despise not being sure I'd ever tasted one (but somehow knowing exactly how it should taste). Anyway, two hours later, as if by magic, H produced the most gorgeous-looking pie. And it tasted it too, the added honey and cinnamon bringing out the subtle taste of the pumpkin. We had it with single cream.

So, stealing a pumpkin from the Eden Project: we visited recently and noticed hundreds of pumpkins, squashes and gourds on display for autumn and Halloween. I innocently asked a Team Member standing nearby what they were all for. For the Halloween carving, he replied. Okay, I said, what happens to them afterwards. They go in the compost, he told me. You know they can be eaten, I retorted. Yes, he said, a few are given to staff, the rest are composted.

A bit later in the rainforest biome, we saw bunches of bananas fallen on the ground from the banana trees. They'd obviously been there a while, some were going soft with ants all over them; others looked fine. I picked one off the bunch and shared it around; tasted yum.

Later still, outside and up the meandering slope a bit is a lovely-looking vegetable garden, pretty substantial, with aforementioned squashes as well as many other vegetables including tomatoes, aubergines and chard. But on closer inspection I noticed a lot of the vegetables looked rotten. Again, there was a handy Team Member walking past, and I asked him about the fruit and veg. He wasn't aware of anyone ever picking them and said they would just all rot. I was stunned. But what about everything the Eden Project stands for? He shrugged his shoulders. But what about the cafes and restaurants? They're run by different companies who source their food from outside. Surely something can be done – the vegetables sold to visitors or given to charity? Yeah, you're probably right. What if I took some now? If no one's looking, go ahead. So I did – a pumpkin and some tomatoes.

I was appalled by the waste of food (when there's Zero Waste slogans plastered on their website) – but remembered previously seeing staff binning leftover sandwiches at the end of the day. I always go into the Eden Project quite excited but leave feeling depressed, like it's all for appearances, all a sham, all for profit.

Anyway, in case you're wondering about the above photo of abandoned pumpkins spotted in the local woods post-Halloween (there were lots of others too), do not fret for it's all for a good cause – squirrels love eating them, as do birds, hedgehogs, badgers and foxes. No waste.

Previously on Barnflakes
Success and failures of the Eden Project
Notes on dog poop bags
Top ten breakfasts
Five a day?
Blackberry season

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