For the Socially Conscious Parent, Halloween Can Be Terrifying

What's an ethical parent to do? Sure makes it a lot less fun to hand a beaming child in full Jasmine costume a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on Halloween when you can picture children in Cote d’Ivoire processing the cacao beans. Of course, that's why the Raise the Bar activists chose Halloween, known in my household as Chocolate Christmas, to make a stink over Hershey's (alleged) failure to reform its child-labor practices. But once you've seen a picture of a sad-eyed kid harvesting cacao, you can't unsee it, and buying a bag of Hershey's Miniatures to give out at the door sort of loses its appeal.

Another dark cloud over the holiday: vegetable oil in chocolate instead of cocoa butter! Tons of plastic and paper trash clogging landfills! The Warriors is being remade and set in the present and made more realistic! (Sorry, that last one has nothing to do with Halloween but I'm still very upset about it. No Baseball Furies? What?)

So how to still experience the fun of stuffing your kids full of sugary crap in the dead of night without inadvertently supporting companies you suspect of enslaving little children with tiny hands and big eyes, just like your own precious offspring? First of all, there's no point in not letting kids eat whatever treats they collect, Hershey's or not. Whatever's there is already purchased: It's done, over, the money is spent. Let your kids eat and enjoy, and for God's sake don't lecture them. Let them think the world is a kind place for a while yet.

And though I love the intentions behind the Reverse Trick-or-Treating campaign (your little ones showing up on somebody's doorstep to hand them candy, what organizer Global Exchange calls "vegan-friendly, Fair Trade dark chocolate ... accompanied by a card informing recipients of poverty and child labor problems in the cocoa industry"), it's just a big downer.

So knowing that only tools hand out pennies or dental floss, and that suspicious modern children won't accept my homemade loca-organic thingies, what to keep in a bowl by the door? If your criteria, like mine, include "delicious" and "individually wrapped," no doubt you've already haunted the bulk bins at natural foods and other enlightened grocery stores, trolling for SunSpire's Earth Balls, or hard candy drops by companies like YummyEarth. Also, I happen to be very fond of the Joyva Sesame Crunch, those individually wrapped little candy bricks, though I'm not sure how many kids enjoy seedy treats at Halloween.

Moving on to the candy aisle, companies like Equal Exchange and Divine Chocolate sell mini chocs suitable for treat bags. Other than that, the choices are grim. Turn off your lights and huddle indoors, munching apples, popcorn balls, and homemade pickles?

Image source: Flickr member respres under Creative Commons