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The Lesser Evils of Halloween

October 30, 2013

For someone who is deeply concerned about the integrity of foodstuffs, grocery shopping can be a harrowing experience. Everything either has GMOs, or is drenched in pesticides, or is full of arsenic, or is packed in a can lined with BPA, or is covered in salmonella. Oils are extracted with hexane, artificial colors are added for almost no discernible reason at all, and artificial flavors are so prevalent it makes one wonder why the foodstuff needed to start out as food in the first place.

Still, you’ve got to eat. And most of us can’t just pick up and move to a monastery.

What you don’t have to do is eat candy. Except for tomorrow, of course. Because on the occasion of Halloween, everyone is expected to buy treats for the real or imaginary neighborhood children who may or may not show up at your door.

I’m absolutely convinced that most Halloween candy purchased is actually consumed by the family that bought it. So the big question is what’s the best candy to buy, especially given the very real concerns of adverse reactions to artificial colors and the child slavery involved in the chocolate industry.

Well, I have one idea that will help for this year, and another to keep in the back of your mind for 2014.

Here’s what you don’t want to do. You don’t want to be the crazy person who is handing out expensive organic candy to kids who will then take it and throw it in the trash. They’ll totally do that too if it’s something that seems weird. And then they’ll mock your children on the school bus.

Home baked treats are out. As are raisins, stickers, or any other non-candy tchotchke. This is Halloween dammit, it’s the festival of the miracle of candy.

The best candy really depends upon what factors you are optimizing.

I don’t like the bitter taste of child slavery, so chocolates are out. That said, I wouldn’t entirely rule out a candy that had a chocolate coating. Avoiding GMOs in conventional candy is impossible, so if you want mainstream candy, you are just going to have to deal with them. To a certain degree this holds true for artificial flavors since vanillin is in just about everything these days. However, I want my candy to taste like the ingredients it is made from. So I’m taking the bold step of looking for something without other artificial flavors too.

As far as I can tell, that leaves me with exactly two choices. Neither of them are ideal. But I’ll take what I can get.

Payday is really the best bet. It’s made from peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, nonfat milk, palm oil, and contains 2% or less of salt, carrageenan, mono- and diglycerides, egg whites, soy protein.

So I’m not crazy about a few of those ingredients, but it does do a great job at satisfying my criteria. For those who think giving out peanuts during Halloween is unconscionable given the severity of some children’s peanut allergies, I offer a second solution.

Junior Mints are made from sugar, semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, cocoa butter, soya lecithin – an emulsifier, vanillin – an artificial flavor), corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze, modified food starch, peppermint oil, and invertase (an enzyme).

Yes, there’s a little bit of chocolate coating, but it’s mostly sugar spiked with actual peppermint oil.

Really, the best bet is to get yourself a mega carton of mini fair-trade chocolates. I had no idea these existed until just last night. Dammit. I feel like I dropped the ball on this one. But at least you can store this data point away for next year. These are totally going into the bowl for the four kids we typically get on Halloween. The rest I’ll eat in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Speaking of which I can’t wait until Halloween is over so we can move on to the much better holiday that’s right around the corner.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 5, 2013 2:01 pm

    You can get those mini fair trade chocolates in the bulk section at Honest Weight. You can buy just one or two, a handful, or whatever you need.

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