So I find myself wondering what to do about Halloween this year. No, not the typical Christian "should I celebrate it or not?" dilemma (more on this on a couple of weeks), but more of a quandary as to what sort of candy to hand out. Unless you are an evil grinch (or a fundamentalist Christian) you give out candy at Halloween. It's the one night of the year when you are guaranteed to actually meet your neighbors as people get pulled out of the safety of their suburban fortresses by the munchkins dressed as pirates, superheros, and the cast of High School Musical. So I can't not give out candy.
But I'm facing an ethical dilemma. What do I give? I refuse to support human trafficking and child slavery by buying chocolate
from one of the big name distributors. And as the buzz around the new documentary The Price of Sugar
raises awareness of slave conditions inflicted on Haitians in the production of our sugar, I don't want to just go with pure sugar stuff either (and of course trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup as well). I mean, just a few days before Halloween I will be attending a fundraising banquet for relief work in Haiti, how can I then turn around and support systems that cause poverty and oppression in Haiti? It would be easier to be a hypocrite, but that's not sitting well with me. So that means I need to find fairly traded organic Halloween candy to give out this year.
So once again I set out on a quest to discover if I can engage ethically in my consumption. I go to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Fruitful Yield. I even look at my local grocery story that just recently made a big deal about the new half aisle of organic stuff they put in. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Oh, Whole Foods had nice autumn boxes of 6 truffles for $7 and Trader Joe's carries the new chocolate larabar for $1.50 each (super yummy btw), but no bags of individually wrapped easily distributable Halloween candy. I had a bit better luck at Fruitful Yield, they at least carried candy, but not in bulk. I would have to buy each piece individually (at their insane mark-up) if I wanted candy from them. Sorry, but the budget can't handle that.
Halloween is a $2 Billion dollar a year industry for candy and the average household spends around $17 each year on the candy supply to give out. To break it down - each piece of mini brand name candy costs you between 8-13 cents and the "fun size" pieces are between 20-30 cents each. Depending on the size of your neighborhood, that adds up. Given that the cheapest stuff I found in my search was $.50, I realized that attempting to have an ethical and green Halloween could really cost me. So having no luck visiting actual stores (although on an unrelated note I discovered that Whole Foods carries Shiner beer, in Illinois - much happiness there) I turned to the ever faithful internet.
Thanks to the groundwork done by the wonderful Candy Blog
and green LA girl
I found what I was looking for. While there doesn't appear to be loads of options out there, there are some pretty good choices available. Apparently Global Exchange carries an entire Fair Trade Halloween Kit
full of candy, decor, and info postcards. Pretty spiffy. I'm also a fan of their fair trade gold coins
which will go well with the pirate theme Emma is insisting upon this year. Also available are Endangered Species Bug Bites
. These mini-chocolate bars come in milk and dark chocolate varieties and are high on the yummy scale. I let Emma try one and asked if if she thought other kids would like them. She said, "no, just Emma, I eat them all." We're working on the sharing thing. Plus each piece comes with a bug trading card which I think are rather fun. If you are looking to avoid chocolate altogether, Yummy Earth
carries organic lollipops and hard candy in a variety of interesting flavors (watermelon, pomegranate...). But you have to get orders in now to guarantee delivery by Halloween.
So all of this stuff sounds good to me and are things I can buy without feeling like a hypocrite. I guess the real test will be if the kids like them. But then again, if they don't, I'll at least be contributing to the ever necessary "parent's stash." So here's to a green (and ethical) Halloween. Now we shall just see how my attempts to create organic whole wheat pumpkin muffins go over...
Labels: Ethical Consumption, Social Justice