A Brief Rant About the Wasting of Pumpkins on Halloween

Last year, there was a poor pumpkin crop, due to a combination of bad weather and overly centralized production of pumpkins for canning.  For a while, even Wegman’s did not carry pumpkin pie filling.  They just plain ran out.  This unfortunate fact caused much consternation among my pie baking daughters.

Meanwhile, huge numbers of pumpkins were wasted on Halloween.  How many?  Well, let’s all be math nerds for a while and make an estimate.

There are about 300 million Americans.  Let’s assume that there are about 3 Americans per household, so there are about 100 million households in the USA.  Then assume that each household carves one 10-pound Halloween pumpkin.


Yeah, I know that part of the pumpkin is the guts, which get thrown out, but I am using very round numbers.  But I checked here, and discovered that the 10 largest pumpkin producing states produce about 1 billion pounds of pumpkins annually.  So my number is not too crazy.

That is enough pumpkins to feed a small African country for a year.  In fact, that would be 500 pounds of pumpkin for every Botswanan.  They like their pumpkins over there, but if they ate that much pumpkin, the beta carotene would give even  them an orange tint.    Or, if we gave those pumpkins to Americans, that would be about 5 extra pumpkin pies per person.

Meanwhile,  there are plenty of hungry people, or people who could use a little relief in the wallet.

So, here is a modest proposal.  DON’T DESTROY YOUR HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN, EAT IT!!!

There are non-destructive ways of decorating a pumpkin.  Here is a link with some of them.  There is no limit to what you can do once you are freed from the tyranny of the carving knife.  You could even use another variety of winter squash.  For example, a Green Hubbard would make an excellent Jabba the Hut.  Just use non-toxic materials, please.

Then, you can save the pumpkin.  It helps if you picked the right type to begin with:  smaller pumpkins are best for pies, and as they get larger they are less good.  Instead of buying pumpkin pie filling, make your own using a recipe like this one. Yes, this takes some work, but you will be saving money and striking a blow against “Big Agriculture” at the same time.  Big Agriculture, in its infinite wisdom, decided that 95% of the canning pumpkins would be grown in Illinois.  They deserve to lose some of your business.


3 thoughts on “A Brief Rant About the Wasting of Pumpkins on Halloween

  1. The shortage of canned pumpkin is a perennial problem, but it has nothing to do with the shortage of pumpkins, rather it’s the canning industry’s bottom line self-serving practice of holding back production during non-peak usage, from the years-end holidays until August or September, when there’s little demand for the product. Thousands of tons of perfectly good pumpkins are wastefully disposed of by growers after Halloween because the canners won’t buy them in accordance with their predetermned production and marketing schedules. Don’t blame it on the Halloweeners. I don’t buy canned pumpkin. I make my own and freeze it to use during the time when it’s not available in the markets.

  2. Last year our commissary only had the mix, not the plain canned pumpkin, which I prefer. We’ve already bought enough canned pumpkin for me to make a gallon of pumkin butter, plus several pies, which we enjoy all winter long.

    Mike asks folks at work to give him their old jack o’lanterns and ornamental pumpkins/squashes, then feeds them to our goats. The big carving ones usually aren’t as tasty as the ones that are bred for human consumption.

    On a related note — we heard a year or so ago that the legislature (Virginia’s, I guess) was planning to reclassify fresh pumpkins to a taxable category, since most people don’t buy them for food. 😦

  3. Thank you, Kelly. I’ve been trying to explain that jack o’lanterns aren’t eating pumpkins. Maybe he’ll believe you. 😉

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