This Halloween, don’t send your pumpkins to the graveyard!

In the United States, almost one third by weight of the available food supply went uneaten in 2010—that comes to 133 billion pounds of wasted food and $161.6 billion down the drain. One way to help reduce the amount of food sent to an early grave? Give your Halloween pumpkin a second life!

More than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins are produced each year in the United States, the majority of which are grown in only a handful of states—last year, farmers in California, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Michigan, and Illinois produced more than 750 million pounds of pumpkins in those areas alone! That’s a lot of squash, and most of it is being sold during the fall season, particularly around Halloween for jack-o-lanterns and other ornamental uses.

Decorative pumpkins and gourds around the holidays are a popular commodity, but if you’re letting these squash collapse on your porch step, you’re allowing food to be wasted. Pumpkin is a rich source of vitamin A and potassium, and has long held an important place in many global cuisines. If the typical 10-25 pound jack-o-lantern pumpkin doesn’t exactly make your stomach rumble, consider another pumpkin varietal.

The term “pumpkin” actually refers to members of four different species: Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita pep, and Cucurbita maxima, giving you a wide range of options to choose from. The large orange globes normally used for jack-o-lanterns are typically bred for qualities other than taste, but by expanding your search to include smaller heirloom varieties (which are now carried in many grocery stores), you can find pumpkins that pull double-duty for both their unique aesthetic appeal and their flavorful flesh.

For inspiration on what to look for and how to cook it, check out this Washington Post article on the best ways to eat 10 varieties of pumpkin and winter squash (link is external), which includes varietals that are blue and others that have a warty-looking exterior—perfect for Halloween!


Republished with permission from NEEF:


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