I’m not sure what the Halloween equivalent to a ‘grinch’ is, but chances are most people will think I’m it when I say what I’m about to say – this year, my kids will not be trick or treating.
I know, I know, cue eye roll here. But before you do that hear me out, because this was a very mindful decision that I didn’t come to lightly. In no particular order, here are my 5 reasons for saying no to trick or treating this year.
1. THE HEALTH PERSPECTIVE
As a nutritionist, I can’t justify a night of accumulating enough candy to last six months. Not only does the on-going daily consumption of candy lower my children’s immune systems, but fall in general also marks the beginning of flu season, which is a little too ironic.
Did you know that just a teaspoon of sugar can lower your immune system for a few hours? So, if gobbling Halloween candy until Christmas, it would seem that my kids’ immune systems could never catch up. No thank you.
2. TEACHING LESSONS ABOUT SACRIFICE
Sure, I remember what it was like to be young and run from house to house with a big pillowcase collecting candy, chocolate and pennies for my Unicef donation box. But just because I did it, doesn’t mean my kids should.
We have lots of healthy sweet treats in our day-to-day and if anything, my kids need to learn more lessons about sacrifice. In the grand scheme of things, giving up an annual candy haul is a great lesson about appreciating what you have and not subscribing to the ‘more more more’ culture.
3. AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A NEW MAGICAL TRADITION
There are plenty of ways to create magical childhood memories without subscribing to the traditional trick or treating antics. So, this time around, we will create a new tradition for this spooky time of year. I plan to let my kids help me decide what this exciting new tradition should be so they have a hand in shaping their childhood memories too.
I imagine we will eat something sweet and yummy and maybe head out for the night since I will also not be handing out chocolate. I care about the wellbeing of all children’s health, not just my own.
4. UNETHICAL CHOCOLATE AND CANDY
My biggest and most heartfelt reason though for saying no to trick or treating this year is the quality of the chocolate that seems to be most popular for the modern Halloween. Big brand name candy companies have been documented in recent years for buying cacao from plantations that use children as slave labour. According to news reports, some children are even kidnapped at the tender age of 10, my sons age, to work in these fields with machetes.
How can I possibly support trick or treating after learning about this horrible injustice just so my kids can live out this experience? I would much rather teach them about what these children must be feeling – terrified, sad and hopeless – and how we can make a difference by going against the grain, and refusing to buy this type of product. If I can teach my children to take a stand against this at a young age, then I’m setting them up early to be more conscious consumers.
5. CHILDREN ARE ACCEPTING OF CHANGE
I have extremely loving and kind children, like all of us, and I was confident in their kindness and intelligence that they would understand when I explained why they can’t trick or treat this year, and maybe not ever again. It only took a few hours of googling together about the devastation behind chocolate for them to come around to the unconventional idea. Kids are very accepting of change, it’s we adults who tend to struggle with the idea of doing something new.
And before you ask, yes, I had thought of giving out ethically sourced chocolate and candy only, but at this point, it’s very expensive to give out on mass and, on the advice of most of my friends and family, the kids wouldn’t really enjoy it – yet!
A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS
I do wholeheartedly believe that when more people understand the truth behind their cheap chocolate, they will also have a change of heart and encourage their children to do the right thing. That’s why I wanted to write this blog.
Check out this great list of ethically sourced chocolate so your family can make a positive change too. Today it’s almost impossible to not to find ethical chocolate in health food stores or even your local grocery store, because people are starting to pay more attention to the quality of their products.
Please read this article to learn about how 70% of the world’s chocolate supply comes out of Western Africa where child slave labour is prevalent.
Click here for 12 Healthy Halloween Treats and a great blog I read that helps my case, and for me, conveniently points out the fact that kids are eating junk all year long anyway…
I challenge you to create your own Halloween tradition that is not at the expense of human life.
And please share your comments and thoughts; I am open to hearing all constructive thoughts and feedback and great ideas about how we can create a new Halloween for our children.