Halloween is upon us and so continues the growing trend of Pick Your Own Pumpkin as a way of spending some time with your family. It’s a nice ‘outdoorsy’ activity, getting children away from their screens for a while, whilst supporting local farmers. So far so good but, viewed from a different perspective, this represents EVERYTHING that is wrong about food production in this country.
Far too many people see supermarkets as the source of the food that they eat, rather than the hard-working farmers and growers that keep our shelves and fridges fully stocked. Because of supermarket price wars, consumers have come to expect cheap food and for it to be available all year round. However, the full supermarket shelves hide the ongoing threat of food security and sustainability that has been voiced by farming and environmental groups for years now. Farmers and growers are going out of business with alarming frequency, and many more are forced to diversify to make ends meet. Hence the rise of cafes, glamping pods, maize mazes and now the PYO pumpkin racket.
Support Farmers, Farming and Food Production
Farmers are incredibly hard working and resilient and their whole lifestyle is about manging the land, working with nature, future planning and handing down to the next generation. We need to look to them for how to do things properly. We need to value them and pay them a fair price for producing wholesome food rather than forcing them to make their farms into amusement parks and growing edible ornaments.
But What About My Halloween Pumpkin??
Well instead of pick your own, why not grow your own. Pumpkins are easy to grow ( www.rhs.org.uk for advice ) and could become your new family tradition. The planning and care involved in growing your Halloween pumpkin would be a fantastic opportunity to teach children about the work involved in food production.
And our Family Day Out?
Everybody, especially children, should be spending time outdoors in green spaces. Fresh air, trees, bird song, creepy crawlies, maybe a deer or fox if you’re lucky. We know that interacting with nature has a profoundly positive effect on the human spirit but is seriously lacking in many people’s lives. A really good way to increase your access to wild space is by visiting your local nature reserves. The Wildlife Trust has been protecting wildlife and their habitats for over 100 years, actively managing pockets of land across the UK and encouraging people to connect with nature.
Go to www.wildlifetrusts.org for more information about what’s going on in your local area and get exploring.
Pumpkins and Squash are Food, right?
Yes, they are. Full of fibre, antioxidants and a loads of beta carotene that helps you see in the dark. Recipes can be easily found online but roasting is a great way of capturing all that gorgeous flavour and velvety texture. Don’t forget the seeds are also highly nutritious and when toasted make a lovely crunchy topping for salads and soups. Just remember to keep some for growing next years pumpkin…..