October 23, 2015
Halloween Treats with A Conscience
Tricks for Giving Kids The Best Treats this HalloweenHalloween has long held the tradition of the “treat” part of “trick or treat” manifesting itself as some sort of store bought candy, filled with unhealthy (and frankly sometimes unidentifiable) ingredients. Is that really a treat, or is it actually a trick? This Halloween give your kids and the kids in the neighborhood a real treat by offering them healthy, fun or non-perishable items as treats. With creative campaigns like the Teal Pumpkin Project going viral and catching on in “real life” too, it’s a wonderful time to think of alterative treats this Halloween. Here’s what’s on our list:
Real SugarToday, many candies are made with sugar alternatives rather than actual sugar. The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose. However, each sugar substitute has a different chemical makeup and each is handled differently in the body, and at this point, we don’t have compelling evidence on the safety of these sugar substitutes. Dr. Melina Jampolis, a nutrition specialist who was interviewed by CNN about sugar substitutes stated that in her opinion, “sugar substitutes are not a good idea for children since we don’t fully understand the potential metabolic/programming effects. If there is even the possibility of an increased risk of any disease, a lifetime of exposure would surely increase that risk.” Also keep an eye out for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is contained in food and soft drinks. New evidence from Dr. Bruce Ames’ research center shows that HFCS can trigger body-wide inflammation and obesity. HFCS also includes contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA and its inclusion in food is usually an indicator of poor-quality, nutrient-starved, disease-creating industrial food products. Yuck! As we always say, better safe than sorry! So if you are looking for treat alternatives this year, opt for Halloween treats that contain real sugar, not sugar substitutes or high fructose corn syrup.
Fair TradeAccording to Equal Exchange, every year Americans spend billions of dollars on millions of pounds of Halloween chocolate. Yet, most people have no idea where that chocolate came from or who grew it. And, unfortunately, the truth might scare you more than a Halloween trick! Fair trade chocolate companies like Equal Exchange pay farmers a fair price for the cacao, which helps them support their families, care for the environment and invest in their futures. They also visit their farmers regularly to ensure that no forced child labor was involved. So, this Halloween, protect your neighborhood kids, as well as those around the world by buying fair trade.
OrganicGenetically modified foods are scary all year round, not just on Halloween. Offer the ghosts and goblins knocking on your door organic candies that, by law, are free of genetically modified ingredients. When shopping for treats, look for the “USDA Certified Organic Label”, or the “Non GMO Project Verified” label, and check out this article on Take Part for 10 candies that are in the organic clear!
Non-EdibleTruthfully, the healthiest route to take this Halloween is by offering non-edible treats to your visitors. The Fresh 20 has compiled a list of 25 non-food alternatives to Halloween candy to get you brainstorming. After all, isn’t an item that you can keep long after Halloween is over much more fun anyway? And just in case you were wondering which Halloween treats to pull from your children’s own trick-or-treat bag, here is a list of the 10 Worst Halloween Candies for Kids according to Woman’s Day:
- Snickers: Carmel is a serious cause of tooth decay, chocolate is loaded with fat and calories and many children are allergic to peanuts.
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins: Most candies that are released specifically for Halloween tend to have an extra 100 calories lurking in each serving!
- Candy Corn: This Halloween favorite contains nothing but sugar, artificial coloring and artificial flavoring, carnauba wax and artificial binders – YUCK!
- White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M’s: The white chocolate they add to these candies is so processed; it’s not even white chocolate anymore!
- Tootsie Pops: The licking of the pop keeps sugar in the mouth longer than most candies, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
- Starburst: Each packet of 10 has the sugar equivalent of five and a half sugar packets!
- Sour Patch Kids: The high acid levels in these candies can break down tooth enamel quickly.
- Fun Dip: The amount of sugar in this candy is so excessive it led one nurse to label it “the worst candy you can buy.”
- Skittles: Skittles are made with sugar, corn syrup, hydrogenated palm oil, or trans fat, and artificial colors. Doesn’t sound like a rainbow of real fruit flavors to us!
- Sugary Bubble Gum: The formula for this chewy treat hasn’t changed in over 50 years, a sign that something is very off nutritionally.