Halloween is my favorite mainstream holiday next to Thanksgiving. What other time of year can you dress up in the most ridiculous outfits, go up to a stranger’s house, ask for a “trick or treat” and end up with a bag full of candy, all without ending up with a trespassing citation? Life is grand!
The junk food part is becoming more and more of a problem, though. A rare sampling of sugary treats isn’t all that bad, but it’s not just the sugar that you need to worry about. There is the type of sugar, the unpronounceable names of added fillers, the wide range of dangerous food colorings and of course, where did all of these nasty ingredients come from?
There are plenty of examples of people trying to be creative and move away from traditional unhealthy treats. A lot of them are just plain boring, while others can be downright dangerous. A few tips:
- Keep your treats to wrapped, store-bought goodies. Most parents will just toss any homemade food items from unknown sources.
- Think food allergies. Far more prevalent these days and most parents should be taking precautions anyway, but choose treats with minimal potential allergens (like tree nut-, dairy- or gluten-free).
- Limit how many treats you give out. Don’t just leave an unattended bowl out front. This will make buying healthier candies more affordable and limit how many sugary treats the kiddos are getting.
- Check out Green Halloween (greenhalloween.org) for some good suggestions on “trick or treasures” instead of treats.
- Don’t give away toothbrushes. Unless of course you are a dentist, then you get a pass.
I believe the key to a healthier Halloween is to provide the healthiest “treat” options available for trick-or-treaters. There is no reason we should take away a fun tradition for children and replace it with landfill fodder (like little toys) or throw away alternative food options (like dried veggie chips). If every Butterfinger was replaced with an ethically sourced, all-natural, minimal ingredient small chocolate bar, Halloween would be a far “healthier” holiday.
Willy Street Co-op has a lot of wonderful options interms of all natural treats that won’t break the bank and kids will still want to devour. Endangered Species and Equal Exchange make bite-sized, individually wrapped chocolates that are certified both Fair Trade and organic and taste better than any conventional chocolate bar I’ve had. You can find Halloween specific packages of both dark and milk chocolate from Endangered Species Chocolate in the stores by the end of September.
The Co-op also carries a wide range of fruit-based candies from brands such as Surf Sweets, Yummy Earth and Annie’s Naturals, in Halloween-specific packages. All of these treats are made from real fruit juice and are organic and non-GMO verified. They are also free of synthetic colorings, preservatives and artificial flavors.
There are a lot of other options at Willy Street Co-op that fit the bill of healthy treats that are still delicious—just get creative. Halloween is a once a year event where kids (and grown-up kids) get to put aside their daily lives and indulge in fantasy and foods that they would not eat on a regular day. We should keep that tradition alive but still aim to get rid of nasty additives and replace them with healthier, all-natural ingredients that still leave you wanting more. I like to think of it as “trick or... non-GMO, organic, all-natural...treat!”