It’s that time of year again when leaves take on the most brilliant colors and the evenings come earlier and chillier. Grocery store fronts are stocked with pumpkins, gourds and late season heirloom tomatoes (at least here in California). And if your home shares any similarity with mine, you get the frequent scene of kids huddled over the Halloween costume catalogue, fiercely debating their choices for the year.
You might also have a love/hate relationship with Halloween, like me. I love to see the kids get dressed up with that great look of anticipation sparkling in their eyes. I love to dress in costume, too. I also love black crows, black cats (at least black and white tuxedo cats), and pumpkins. But I HATE, loathe and despise the shear amount of candy that gets handed out, and more than the amount, I hate the poor quality of most of it, with its corn syrup base and artificial flavoring and coloring.
So I must share a story with you … Last year, we got invited to a Halloween party in a friend’s neighborhood. After a light supper, all the party guests spilled out onto the streets to begin trick-or-treating. The parents sort of hung back to watch the kids run across the streets and scamper across lawns in an effort to amass as much candy as possible in as short a period as possible. I actually saw kids with pillowcases for collecting candy. After the fifth house, my kids announced they were done. One recently-made friend, with the most incredulous look on her face asked, “How can you already be done?” Immediately after which she noticed the candy collecting bags my kids were carrying. Roughly 8 inches by 8 inches by 1 inch, the relatively miniature bags conveniently (at least to me) only hold five home visits worth of candy. And so, my family spent the remainder of the evening strolling home admiring others’ costumes and decorations.
But my candy-curbing efforts didn’t stop with the bags. To further prevent the ingestion of tons of corn syrup and chemicals, we started a practice whereby our children “donate” their candy to their dentist who in return gives them one dollar per piece. Sadly, their dentist doesn’t really offer such a wonderful service, so I handle the “exchange” for them, giving them the appropriate number of dollars after my alleged visit to the dentist. Luckily, those small bags, hence small amounts of candy, don’t break the bank, and a few days later, our children gleefully go to the local toy store to pick out something of their choosing. I know this ruse will end soon when my kids, who are growing increasingly comfortable with their dentist, work up the courage to broach the subject with him. I’m hoping a conspiratorial look or swift kick under the dentistry chair will allow the moment to pass without incident.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I still hand out candy to any one who visits our home, but I buy only natural products. It’s not my place to tell children other than my own how much sugar is too much, but I also don’t feel comfortable doling out chemicals. I love that natural foods stores, such as Whole Foods Markets, are offering more and more natural candy options. While the colors might not be quite as vivid as what you find in the drugstore, and although the candy might not fizz or crackle on your tongue, the flavors are actually much better and much more authentic.
Here are two to consider this year. Tasty brand’s Organic Fruit Snacks* (“all natural gummies”) and YumEarth Organics Organic Pops (lollipops). Neither contain high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, artificial flavors or preservatives. Read: no Red 40, Yellow 5, etc. Both rely on colors from fruits and vegetables, such as beets, black carrots, carrots and pumpkin. The Organic Pops even contain 100% of the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C!
*Note: The 36-pouch box of Tasty brand’s Organic Fruit Snacks do not appear to be available on-line. Otherwise I would have provided the link. The trick-or-treat size pouches, sold in a box,. are readily available in most Whole Foods Markets