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Save the Squash: This Halloween, reduce food waste
Save the Squash: This Halloween, reduce food waste

People in our city are going hungry, every day.

To add insult to injury, we are encouraged to waste a nutrient-dense food;

Yet we happily donate nutritionally-devoid canned goods to food banks.

ONE neighborhood in Toronto, Ontario boasts of disposing 300 pumpkins after last year's Halloween.
Considering the number of neighborhoods in the city, the amount of wasted food adds up quickly.

"Come by at 9 pm to help toss the pumpkins into the city's trash bins. We had about 300 pumpkins last year - let's break that record!"
This is what was posted on a Toronto neighborhood social group on Facebook for Halloween 2017.

Canadians are confused about what a food is and what it isn't, and it's causing a city that is supposedly progressive to fail in leading the change toward a sustainable future.

850,000 Canadians use food banks every month yet $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year in Canada.


The common Halloween pumpkin is a member of Cucurbita pepo, along with zucchini and spaghetti squash. Compared to other varieties it has stringy, watery flesh and comes in all sizes and sometimes slightly varied round shapes, such as oblong.

Pumpkin and squash have been cultivated by native people of North America and Central and South America centuries before colonization. It is a staple native American crop.

Have the biggest pumpkin on the block; made from recyclables

Sustainable decorating to reduce food waste

Toronto is a city of artists and designers. It's time for new creative ways to decorate pumpkins for Halloween. Even a simple sticker with solar-powered LEDs in the shape of a Jack O'Lantern face would save a pumpkin and potentially put thousands of IUs of vitamin A into your diet. A $3 investment to buy such a LED sticker could be reused to potentially save 150 lbs of food waste over one person's lifetime.

The idea is to display a decorative pumpkin on your porch without cutting it or burning a candle inside, both which cause the flesh to degrade as a food product. Would you cut open an apple and leave it out for a few days then eat it? No. Same goes for a pumpkin. Once it's cut, it's compromised and the best properties of the fleshy fruit begin to degrade. Cut pumpkins can last 24 hours and still be usable as food. After that, it starts leaking liquid out and starts to really decompose, making it nearly useless as a food item.

This food can then be dropped off at a local church or foodbank.


A zero waste approach to celebrating Halloween is a great idea from the Toronto Tool Library. The one thing that is left out on the list is nutritional waste.

Composting is great, but think about it: Do you spend a few minutes choosing the best apple at the store, bring it home, place it on a table, stare at it for 3 or 4 days, then put it in the compost even though it's as good as when you bought it?

You might think it's a silly question to ask. But replace the word apple with pumpkin and we think it makes sense, because, Halloween.

If you think about Canada's situation with food waste, you might rethink that choice.

Each time you throw out a pumpkin, you are throwing out a pan of brownies. Halloween pumpkins can be used for more than just making delicious food such as pie or soup, they are ideal for making squash brownies.

Squash Brownies - to die for, but healthy.

Pumpkin is used in Mexican, Italian, Indigenous North, Central and South American, African, Asian and American cuisine; and many others.
Pumpkin is a part of nearly everyone's cultural heritage - it's one thing we are likely to have in common. Get back to your roots with a little pumpkin cooking.

Squash Brownies
Even if you thought you've had enough pumpkin for one season you won't be tired of squash brownies. Give them a try here.

Pumpkin Waste on City Street

Attn: City of Toronto - Municipal Government Toronto Public Health, Toronto Halloween Fest 2018 Toronto, Ontario

FoodShare Toronto North York Harvest Food Bank Daily Bread Food Bank Parkdale Community Food Bank Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank - TVFB Fort York Food Bank Friends of the Toronto Food Policy Council Ontario Association of Food Banks Via Toronto Health & Wellness Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine Feed It Forward

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