I heard a mad story last October about a Northern Territory farmer growing out of season pumpkins for Halloween carving. It isn’t easy growing pumpkins out of season. No wonder they cost a fortune.
And here, at the moment, the verandah stack grows. The wheelbarrow in the garden is full. The ones that the bush turkeys have (wastefully) had a peck at get chucked into the front dam to feed the red claw, or into the garden the chooks are foraging at the moment for wonderful yellow high carotene eggs. And still they come.
Food waste is an odd concept. I mean, I get it. Vast quantities of resources are used growing, transporting, packaging, selling, refrigerating food that ends up in landfill so tangled up with plastic tubs and tetra packs that it’s not worth anyone’s while to untangle so the only solution is to put some dirt on top and walk away. I get it.
It’s just that for every other creature on the planet “food waste” is an oxymoron. If it’s food, something will eat it. Eventually. Perhaps an earthworm that likes it best when it’s got to the stage of slimy. Many fruits go in that boom bust cycle. The plant fruits prolifically all at once, the animals feast, the seeds get distributed, the waste goes back to the earth, life goes on.
It is southern hemisphere Halloween in a week. It is oh so easy to see where the tradition of carving pumpkin lanterns for Halloween originated. As the daylength starts to level out into the short days and long nights of winter, as the harvest season ends and the season of storytelling round the fire starts, as we come to terms with the fact that everything living dies, Halloween pumpkins are a celebration of the excess of autumn harvest season, of pumpkins in such abundance that even after the people and the chooks and the wildlife have eaten all they can, there are still pumpkins, not for wasting but for fanciful, ephemeral art.