With the increasing information about the likely risks of eating genetically modified foods, many parents and caretakers are confused about how to avoid them in their children’s diets. I’ll admit it, it is very tough. GMOs are riddled throughout the country’s food supply as well as our grocery store shelves. The main culprits are corn, soy, canola, cottonseed and sugar beets and any of their derivatives, which are many, like corn syrup and soy lecithin for instance. But there are alternatives. While it takes some thought and planning, it can be done.
The holidays pose special challenges for parents, as children wish to enjoy the traditional delights of the season. This October, figuring out how to reduce GMO candy consumption is a bit like solving a Rubik’s Cube puzzle, but here are some recommendations and strategies to consider.
- You can avoid GMO ingredients in candies by purchasing either organic or European candies (as European countries either don’t use GMO ingredients in their foods or they label them). Stores like Cost Plus have a great selection of German and Belgium Halloween Chocolates for instance. There also are companies in the U.S. making organic lollipops, gummy bears and jelly beans. Search the shelves of your favorite grocery stores for organic candies. Many of these organic candies are also using natural dyes, which is another plus as many dyes pose their own health risks. Websites like the naturalcandystore.com also sell organic Halloween candies, but supplies are running out fast.
- You can also look for candies made with cane sugar; cane sugar is not genetically modified. Whole Foods and other natural food stores carry gum drops and other “gummy” candies that are made with cane sugar and non-GMO ingredients like non-GMO corn starch. Carefully check the labels.
- Honey sticks also are a great sweet treat that can be used to satisfy hungry Halloween mouths. (Do not give honey sticks to kids under 2 years old.)
- A candy swap at the end of a night of trick-or-treating is a fun strategy that can be used to collect the candies you don’t want your kids eating. Buy your trinkets and non-GMO candies ahead of time, and be sure to have a good assortment of them. Have your kids sort their collected Halloween candy into piles while you sort your GMO-free choices. Have them take the lead in making the swaps.
- Opt for non-candy treats, like pencils, play-dough, stickers, or other little toys or trinkets.
A long term strategy may be to consider tailoring their taste buds to healthier choices. Consider consistent, and developmentally-appropriate education for your kids about making better food choices for the sake of their health. Fighting fire with fire can be the best strategy, so offer them something very similar to what they like, but that is organic. Over time you can help them change their habits.
Wishing you a happy, GMO-free Halloween!
Lisa is a Fund Raising Committee Member and a co-founder of MOMS Advocating Sustainability. She currently is a stay-at-home mother of two. Prior to becoming a full-time mom, she studied clinical psychology with an emphasis in health psychology. She previously served as the grants and foundation director for Equal Rights Advocates of San Francisco, the development director for the National Housing Law Project of Oakland and the development director of Hannah House of Washington, D.C.