By: Connie Rosemont (Only Organic)
Halloween is just around the corner, and the organic mom likely faces two challenges: how to keep the fun in Halloween and how to avoid a clash between what you value at home and what the kids are telling you everyone else is doing. Here are a few thoughts for staging your evening that should please everyone:
- Dressing up: For some kids, wearing the costume is more exciting than trick-or-treating. That’s a plus! Whether your kids want to paint up their faces as zombies or glitter-eyed, lipsticked princesses, getting away from mainstream face paint and make-up is key. The cosmetics industry is mostly unregulated and parents are wise to do a bit of research on brands and products before making a purchase. (Studies have found lead in children’s face paint.) EWG’s comprehensive Skin Deep Cosmetic database rates a large range of cosmetic products for safety and gives you safer options like Glob Face Paint and Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques glitter. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also puts out some DIY face paint and make-up suggestions, again focusing on keeping harmful chemicals away from children.
- What to give kids who ring the doorbell: No parent wants to be labeled the “uncool” house that gives out raisins. Two choices: you can stick to your health-conscious guns and give raisins anyway. This is a decent strategy because you haven’t spent good money for really bad candy, and who knows, perhaps a few of the kids dressed as superheroes or ghosts even like raisins. Your second choice might be a tad more expensive, but you can offer healthier candy alternatives. Head out to a local natural foods store or a place like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and you’ll likely find an entire aisle of less-processed and organic candies and chocolates. According to our small survey of kids we know, products like Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks or Surf Sweet’s Gummy Spiders, made with organic fruit juice taste BETTER than regular candy. They are made with real cane sugar, are free of GMO corn syrup and don’t contain artificial colors or flavors. YumEarth candies and Nature’s Path granola bar snacks are also popular alternatives.
- What to do when the kids come home with bags of bad-for-you candy: I am reminded of a childhood friend whose father would come into the kids’ room when they had all their loot spread out on the floor. He would be dressed in his Halloween costume of the white lab-coated Dentist. Claiming in dramatic tones that he was saving their teeth from BAD cavity monsters, he’d swoop down and take most of their candy. Finito! I was always aghast that my friend had such a sad fate, but in retrospect, she knew it was coming and something tells me she looked forward to the play-acting event of their uber-thoughtful Dad. If you don’t think you can finesse such a pounce-and-capture of your kids’ Halloween booty, you still have options. You can negotiate with them ahead of time to trade out the “crap” (and your kids, if they’ve already been exposed to your food rules, already know it’s “crap”) for some of their own favorites. In addition to the options above, if your kids love chocolate, there are great choices available from the Endangered Species brand that gives 10 percent of its profits to helping endangered animals and the kids will love the cute pictures. Good Housekeeping magazine has a great article on 19 organic and fair trade chocolate options, including Green and Black, Theo’s and Go Raw.
As YumEarth’s co-founder Rob Wunder said to a reporter, “Food manufacturer executives are going to have to stand before Congress someday (like the big tobacco execs did) to explain the thought process behind putting high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and other junk into their foods. Many of them label their products ‘All Natural’ because there is apparently no regulation preventing them!”
The same goes for the cosmetics industry. As organic parents, we can make the marketplace safer for all children by doing the research and buying from companies that are putting the safety of our children before their profits. Halloween has got to be one of the best places to start.