You wouldn’t think it’s true, but Halloween is a nutrition activist’s favorite holiday. A food cop in the midst of Trick-or-Treaters is a mosquito in a nudist colony. He has countless opportunities to engage in his favorite activities: yelling, complaining, and warning us about invisible monsters in our candy buckets.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), for example, released a Halloween-themed statement, whining that unlike their British counterparts, American food companies still use food dyes in candy. (Oh, the horrors!) For more than twenty years CSPI has been suing the Food and Drug Administration, which disagrees with the group about the harmfulness of dyes. CSPI is understandably cranky.
CSPI even “investigated” Halloween candy and — surely to their great astonishment — found that they couldn’t approve of any variety. Even fat-free candy got a bad rap. “These may be ‘fat-free foods’,” CSPI sniped, “but they’re not carrot sticks and cantaloupe.” We believe, on the other hand, that unless you enjoy waking up to eggs on your house instead of on your plate, this is probably a good thing.
Sadly, some misguided souls have taken spooky fear-mongering to heart. The Canadian Press reports on parents with elaborate rationing systems for their kids’ Halloween candy consumption. And a Detroit News columnist asks parents to “scrutinize your kids’ haul of goodies and engage in some negotiation over what your children can consume.” (Forbidden fruit, anyone?)
These parents would do well to relax. As the Canadian Press also notes, “doctors and nutritionists say that everybody can enjoy a little Halloween candy in moderation, regardless of their weight.” As one writer put it, “There is a time and place for everything and Halloween is a once-a-year indulgence that lasts for about ten years of someone’s life.”
Indeed, Halloween is actually a great opportunity for kids to put the television remote down and get a little exercise. After all, obesity is less a result of being unscrupulous with your diet than a product of physical inactivity.
If their science weren’t consistently wrong, perhaps the food police would succeed in becoming the Debby Downer of Halloween. But most people still cheerily dish out candy, and most kids still despise the buzzkills who hand out granola bars, applesauce, and toothbrushes. (Note to self: Keep children away from CSPI employees’ houses tomorrow night.)