Monday 25 March 2019

How's this for a scare at Halloween? Tens of thousands of pumpkins are binned every year

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'Our annual pumpkin production sits somewhere in the tens of thousands, but just ask yourself how many pumpkin soups, stews or pies you've consumed this October...' (stock image)
'Our annual pumpkin production sits somewhere in the tens of thousands, but just ask yourself how many pumpkin soups, stews or pies you've consumed this October...' (stock image)
Fiona Ness

Fiona Ness

How's this for a scare at Halloween? Pumpkins are turning into an environmental hazard because millions of us are buying them, just to throw them in the bin.

A new report from Britain has shown that nearly two-thirds of consumers buy pumpkins to hollow out and carve at Halloween, yet only a third of these create something edible with the innards. Yes, pumpkins are creating a frightful mountain of food waste. In Britain, 95pc of the 10 million pumpkins grown annually are carved into lanterns, but only 5pc of these are used in recipes. And there's no reason to suspect Ireland is any different.

Our annual pumpkin production sits somewhere in the tens of thousands, but just ask yourself how many pumpkin soups, stews or pies you've consumed this October...

I can't help thinking none of this would be a problem if we'd stuck to our guns, and our traditions, and kept on knocking out turnip lanterns at Halloween instead. Granted, to carve a turnip you need hands the size of a Belfast docker, but once you're done, its entire contents can be munched on the spot - no culinary skills required.

That's right: raw turnip is a thing. Sweet and moreish, in days gone past children would stop off on the way to school for a covert gnaw in the farmer's field. Your granny would slip you a chunk while she was making her soup. It was the ultimate, on-the-go healthy snack. Had an amazing shelf-life too.

Still, pockets of resistance remain. In our house, the head of our household is holding the line, manfully scooping out a turnip each Halloween. Ils ne pumpkin passeront pas - much to the chagrin of the children, who go around proclaiming 'trick or treat' with a curious nasal twang and are agitating for us to erect a 'Halloween tree' (please someone stop this becoming a thing). Meanwhile, I can't convince them to take even an exploratory bite of the Brassica.

Put the fear of God into social media

What do the cast of horror films feel like after filming, on their own, in their beds, in the dark? The answer is: afraid, very afraid, according to the cast of Netflix's new runaway hit, 'The Haunting of Hill House'.

Barely on our screens a wet week, the serialised ghost story about a mansion plagued by paranormal events is the archetypal scare at bedtime - and it turns out that the cast can't settle themselves either, reporting this week they were "feeling crazed" and seeing things while filming. I've managed to avert cardiac arrest by watching it reflected in our black marble fireplace, as studies rating history's most frightening films have shown that heartbeats can spike by up to 30pc during scary scenes.

However, a more modern-day barometer of a show's fear factor might be the number of people reporting that they find themselves utterly incapable of scrolling on their phones while looking at the TV.

Phones that love you back? Er, no thanks...

We all know how much we love our phones but how much do we need our phones to love us? Or at least, want them to reciprocate our attachment with a reassuring caress?

Working on the premise that humans need touch to convey emotions, a team at the University of Paris-Saclay have created a robotic finger that plugs into a person's mobile device to allow them to interact with it 'in a more human way'.

The 'MobiLimb' has knuckles that beckon, a skin-like covering and a nail tip. Presumably the emotion they're going for here is fear - given that the finger also allows your phone to crawl across surfaces like the disembodied hand from 'The Addams Family'.

Irish Independent

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