Halloween Can Be a Real Food Holiday Too
Remy Franklin Oct 22, 2012 Real Food 0 comments
As we look forward to Halloween, we hope that these beautiful Autumn days find you enjoying some of our most beloved fall activities: picking and carving pumpkins, putting your garden to bed, and celebrating with friends and family. Whatever the season brings, you will probably encounter two items that dominate the Halloween spotlight: pumpkins and candy. Glowing as round, orange jack-o'-lanterns and crinkling in colorful, iconic packaging, we often don't recognize these pillars of Halloween as food. In fact, Halloween may be the American holiday that shares the most confusing relationship with food. At FarmPlate, we see Halloween as a great chance to get in touch with your local confectioners (i.e. candy-makers).
When we think of pumpkins, we usually think of jack-o'-lanterns. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, turning pumpkins into jack-o'-lanterns can be a seasonal outlet for artistic ambition or a showcase of unwieldy knife skills. Despite their common association with jack-o'-lanterns, the vast majority of pumpkins grown in the United States go to processing (AgMRC). These medium-sized cucurbits become the pumpkin pie filling we buy in cans in grocery stores, and we often forget that pumpkins are, after all, a food item and a fruit.
As a squash at center stage of our Halloween celebrations, pumpkins have the potential to bring our communities together around food. They often serve as the focus of food drives, help highlight local produce, and serve as the focus of community traditions. With all this potential, I'm often surprised that local food proponents don't do more to equate Halloween with connecting to our community's food system.
Sharing the Halloween spotlight with pumpkins is candy. Halloween candy is tricky because it is pretty far from the real, whole foods that can be dug up from our backyards. And despite efforts to incorporate alternative treat options in Halloween bags, we can assume that most candy passed out at Halloween is not locally or sustainably made. But thankfully, there are other options.
The FarmPlate team has highlighted a few great confectioneries to show you what to look for when shopping for your Halloween treats:
Red Kite Candy (Thetford, VT) - With a dedication to the finest local ingredients, including fresh Vermont dairy products and world-famous maple syrup, Red Kite handcrafts each of their caramels and toffees with care, assuring a unique tasting experience.
Whimsical Candy (Chicago, IL) - Taking a fun approach to artisanal candies, Whimsical Candy Company makes small batches of sweets that blend a grown-up taste for quality with the fun and classic flavors of childhood candy.
Cabot’s Candy (Provincetown, MA) - A Cape Cod tradition since 1927, Cabot’s Candy is a truly unique candy store with a friendly, old-fashioned atmosphere, born from a true passion for candy making.
Angell Organic Candy Bars (San Diego, CA) - Angell’s “good old-fashioned” candy bars bring back the classic chocolate, chew and crunch in a local candy bar with ingredients and you can feel good about.
Haven’s Candies (Scarborough, ME) - A premium Maine confectionery since 1915, Haven’s Candies uses timeless recipes and the finest ingredients to make delicious chocolates, fudge, salt water taffy, nuts and chocolate novelties.
Lake Champlain Chocolates (Burlington, VT) - Crafted in small batches in Burlington, Vermont, sweet treats from Lake Champlain Chocolates are created using fresh, natural ingredients.
With over a week left before Halloween, it's not too late to incorporate local food into your celebrations, so stop by a farmstand to pick up a local pumpkin, or find alternative candy options by searching for a local confectionery near you. Think about making Halloween a special opportunity to support the local food movement by shopping with growers and food artisans in your community.
Remy Franklin is a senior music and environmental studies student at Dartmouth College. In addition to writing for Farmplate, he pursues an interest in local food through work with the Dartmouth Office of Sustainability, The Sustainable Living Center, Dartmouth Ecovores and the Dartmouth Organic Farm.
Photo by Remy Franklin