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10 frightening food facts for Halloween


As associations go, food and Halloween go together like witches and broomsticks or vampires and blood.

We light pumpkins in windows, reward kids with sugary treats and try to pick apples out of buckets of water with our teeth.

Pumpkins © hjl / FlickrPumpkins © hjl / Flickr

These are all great and quirky traditions, as well as being enormous fun, but Halloween is also a good time to reflect on the importance of food to our culture and why we should do everything in our power to treasure and preserve it.

The current way in which we consume food is unsustainable and some of the issues we face around food security, sustainability and health are as scary as the best goblin or ghoul costumes.

So in keeping with the occasion, here are 10 frightening food facts to ponder as you celebrate All Hallows’ Eve.

  1. Each year in the UK we throw away 15 million tonnes of food and drink including a staggering 18,000 tonnes of pumpkins alone.
  2. If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking one in every four cars off the road.
  3. If everyone in the world consumed key resources like food and water in the same way as an average European we would need 2.7 planets to sustain us.
  4. Producing just one kilo of beef in the UK creates around 47 times more CO2 emissions than producing a kilo of potatoes.
  5. Around one in four species of sharks, rays and skates is now threatened with extinction, due primarily to overfishing.
  6. The UK is estimated to have only 100 harvests left in its soil due to intensive overfarming.
  7. Across the world, around 795 million people do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on the planet.
  8. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five years of age – 3.1 million children each year.
  9. At the same time it is estimated that half the population of Europe is obese or overweight due in part to diets that are high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.
  10. The direct cost to the NHS of treating obesity related illnesses is estimated at around £4bn a year.
Beef cattle in Grindleton in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, UK © WWF-UKBeef cattle in Grindleton in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, UK © WWF-UK

What are the alternatives?

It’s not all spooky stories and terrifying tales – by switching to a diet containing a little less meat and a bit more fruit and veg and wholegrains we can help achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the EU food supply chain, and save money too.

Do your bit this Halloween

Hubbub is running a #PumpkinRescue campaign that encourages people to cook or compost their old pumpkins rather than consign them to a grizzly end in landfill.

Don’t forget to visit our Food pages to find out more about the issues facing our food system.

Happy Halloween!

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