Home » About Us » Blog » The Great Pumpkin & A Healthy Halloween

    The Great Pumpkin & A Healthy Halloween

    October 31, 2012 •  7 comments.

     •  Blog, News

    Did you know that according to the National Retail Federation, there will be over $1 billion in candy sales this Halloween? In 2005, the average American consumed 25.7 pounds of candy, per capita, much of it around Halloween. And on top of that, the CDC recently reported that 1in 3 Americans are expected to have diabetes in the next forty years.

    So what’s a parent to do? It’s Halloween, for crying out loud!

    When trick-or-treating entered the American scene in the 1920s, neighbors gave children items like apples, pastries, breads and even money. So why, 40 years later, are there $1 billion in candy sales each Halloween? How has food marketing taken over this tradition?

    “Companies went after Halloween candy a long time ago,” says Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing. “Candy companies are active and aggressive marketers who offer convenient, pre-packaged treats to fulfill the tradition.”

    But have you ever read the side of a candy box?

    According to Pure Fun Candy, the FDA does not monitor artificial colors, flavors and preservatives nor require that they be tested. Rather, the concept of “threshold of toxicological concern” has been proposed by the FDA to set acceptable daily intake for chemicals of unknown toxicity, apparently on the theory that a little bit can’t hurt. But have you ever seen a kid eat a ‘little bit’ of candy?

    On top of that, research published in The Lancet, a leading medical journal in the UK, suggests that these additives do affect the brain chemistry of children, causing hyperactivity and ADHD like behavior. The research is so strong that Wal-Mart in the UK agreed to ban these ingredients in children’s foods and government agencies around the world have banned or removed these chemical additives in children’s foods. But American kids still consume these additives in record amounts, especially at Halloween.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    And while sugar is still sugar, organic candy does not contain toxic pesticides, high fructose corn syrup or other chemicals or genetically modified ingredients (ingredients engineered into corn and soy by the agrichemical industry to help these plants produce their own insecticides or withstand increasing doses of weed killers) that aren’t used in children’s foods in other countries.

    But with budgets tight, that’s not an option to most families, But given reports by CNN addressing toxicity in children and last year’s Senate hearing in which CNN’s medical correspondent, Sanjy Gupta, addressed the same, perhaps we should take a cue from parents in the 27 countries in the European Union, in Canada, Australia and try to avoid the ingredients that their government agencies have banned in children’s foods – things like high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, MSG and those genetically engineered ingredients producing their own insecticides.

    Do One Thing

    So while we can’t make the perfect the enemy of the good, we can all do something, focusing on progress not perfection. So maybe this Halloween, you can opt-out of juice that contains high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors as a way to reduce your children’s exposure. Or when it comes to that inevitable deluge of candy, you can offer to engage your kids in a candy swap. For every few pieces of conventional candy that they collect, trade them in for a healthier treat, a sticker or some small toy.

    Or better yet, write a letter to the Great Pumpkin. Apparently, he’s been known to bring little presents like gift cards or a book to children who leave their candy baskets outside the front door for him in the first week of November.

    You can make a difference in the health of your family. The opportunity is enormous, and the time is now.

    To learn more about ways to protect your children from genetically engineered ingredients in Halloween candy, you can visit the Non-GMO Project’s Guide to Halloween.

    Additional information is also available at www.greenhalloween.org

      7 Responses to “The Great Pumpkin & A Healthy Halloween”

      1. d

        Hmm you notice many of important information. Due of this I am a weekly reader of your blog.

        Thx

      2. I have struggled with obesity all of my life and find this post warming

      3. K

        “Have you ever seen a kid eat a little bit of candy?” you ask.

        Yes, I have. Every kid with a responsible parent.

        You have brought up some points of concern, but if parents were parenting, the concern would be small as it should be, because the children would be eating nutritionally sound meals every day and the little bit of candy and goodies would be such a minute amount it would truly be of no consequence.

        • Whoever wrote this is RIGHT ON!!! It’s not about the candy… it’s about parenting and moderation!

      4. Audrey

        For the past several years, I’ve bought back my kids candy. They get to do the crazy Halloween thing, I avoid Crazy Halloween Kids, and the kids get cash to buy something they want (that isn’t food related). It works for us.

      5. I LOVE the idea of writing to the Great Pumpkin. I didn’t realize that he collected candy. My son is too young and too sheltered by me to be too interested in the candy, but this is a great tip. In the future, I’ll be sure to write to the Great Pumpkin to schedule a pickup! Awesome!

      6. we cannot best the attacker of the good, we can all do something, concentrating on improvement not excellence. So maybe this Hallow’s eve, you can opt-out of fruit juice that contains high fructose maize syrup or synthetic shades as a way to reduce your kid’s visibility.

      Leave a Reply