Allow me to set forth these facts as the context for my question:
- The New York Times reports that the poverty rate in America is the highest it has been in 15 years, with one in seven people living in poverty.
- In 2008, Feeding America reports that 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, and these numbers continue to grow.
- Circle of Blue continues to find evidence that the US is facing a serious scarcity in freshwater resources.
- American Farmland Trust documents the alarming rates at which we are losing prime farmland to development.
- And the world’s finite supply of fossil fuels continues to be depleted and converted to climate-changing atmospheric carbon.
Given these circumstances, what do you think about using over 40,000 acres of farm land, 20-24 inches of rain/irrigation water, and countless barrels of fuel to plant, cultivate, harvest, and ship a fruit that is primarily purchased for the purpose of being decorated, displayed in the front yard until it’s smashed in the street or overcome with rot and mold, and then thrown unceremoniously in the trash?
I love the beautiful glowing orange of candlelit pumpkins on an autumn eve as much as anyone, but I must say that the resources required for this bit of pleasure do give me pause. I was raised with the stern dictum not to “play with my food.” And in some ways this seems like the worst kind of playing with food. The variety of pumpkin that is grown is chosen for its decorative rather than culinary quailities. It’s grown in a way that optimizes its size (requiring even more water and nutrients). And there’s no intention of eating it after the playing is done. Mightn’t we refrain from using these resources or use them in a way that benefits fellow citizens living with their own sensations of hollowness?