As Halloween approaches, Americans get their costumes ready, carve their pumpkins, and hang scary decorations. And, of course, Halloween is all about candy – millions and millions of pieces of chocolate and other treats. Mars is the largest candy manufacturer in the United States and the second largest producer of food for our furry companions. Earlier this year Mars took a big step in removing artificial coloring from its human food; however, there is still much to be done in the name of healthy options for our children, our pets and ourselves.
Most candy is full of GMOs, as well as sweeteners and fats that are bad for you. And most chocolate, sugar, and fats are produced under terrible labor conditions, and their harvesting often damages the environment as well.
Here is some of the candy you are likely to see this weekend, and their scary ingredients:
- M&Ms: contain soy lecithin, corn starch, sugar, and corn syrup
- Snickers: contain soy lecithin, corn syrup, sugar and partially hydrogenated soybean oil
- Milky Way Original: contain soy lecithin, sugar, hydrogenated oil, palm oil (a major contributor to deforestation), corn syrup
You may have seen these ingredients in many foods, and you may suspect that they aren’t that good for your health. But, here is exactly why these ingredients are more dangerous than you think and worth avoiding:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup Solids: These are GMO sweeteners created from corn. The amount of sugar in the standard American diet is disproportionately high, putting many at risk of diabetes and heart disease, and is even linked to cancer and dementia. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, HFCS poses those risks even if you eat moderate levels of it. He contends that our bodies process HFCS differently than cane sugar, allowing fructose to be more rapidly absorbed into the blood stream. It then travels to the liver triggering functions that increase your appetite, and increasing your chances of weight gain, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.
- Soy Lecithin: Derived from GE soy most of the time, this additive is extracted using hexane, which is removed but particles can be left behind. Hexane is a neurotoxin and carcinogen. Since the removal process is unregulated you may want to consider avoiding it – especially when you consider the impacts of GMOs and residual pesticides present in soy.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oils:
These likely contain trans fats because that is the easiest way to process this additive. According to the Mayo Clinic, trans fats can raise your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL), putting your health at risk. This is possible even for palm oil, although it does have less unsaturated fat available to be converted into trans-fat.
To avoid these dangerous ingredients, organic treats make a yummy and affordable alternative. In addition, you may want to consider Fair Trade certification as well as organic to ensure that your products are made in a just environment as well as a healthy one!
Here are some organic candy options that won’t break the bank:
And this online natural candy store has all your organic, non-GMO, and fair trade needs!
Due to the removal of artificial coloring, Mars has shown us that they listen to consumers’ needs. And, as active and conscious consumers, we need to secure a healthy food system. Take action to encourage Mars remove GMOs from both their human and pet food to keep our loved ones safe and healthy!