Halloween Treats

It’s no secret that the treats of Halloween tend to add up to a nutritional nightmare. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Halloween’s most pervasive ghoul, is a leading contributor to childhood obesity. It is frequently made from genetically modified corn and refined with genetically modified enzymes. And it seems to come in everything, from the candy your kids are collecting to the store-bought cider you’re serving at home.

Adding to the health horrors of Halloween are the environmental and social impacts that chocolate can have. Cacao beans grown in full sun are more susceptible to disease than their shade-grown counterparts and therefore require heavy doses of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. The crop’s social ills include child slavery, which UNICEF has found abundant on cacao plantations, and low prices paid to farmers because of market deregulation.

Fortunately, there are greener and healthier ways to indulge in Halloween candy loot. Here’s what to look for:

  • Chocolate, candy and fruit snacks that are USDA-certified organic.
  • Vegan hard candy, which is free of animal-based gelatin (remember to hand out hard candy only to older kids, who won’t choke on small pieces).
  • Fair trade-certified chocolate, whose makers prohibit child labor and pay cacao farmers a fair price for their crop.
  • HFCS-free, organic apple cider from your local farmer’s market.

What you can do

Participate in UNICEF’s highly successful Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program, whereby children collect change in addition to candy while they’re out making their rounds. Created by kids in 1950, the program has raised more than $144 million to date for impoverished children around the world.

 

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