October 2011 - Posts - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

October 2011 - Posts

  • The Halloween Candy Conundrum


    Halloween offers me a unique opportunity for ethical, caloric and frugal dilemmas.  Somehow, this year I have managed to end up on the losing end of each of these dilemmas.

    It all began last week, on the very day I was planning on purchasing our trick-or-treat candy.  I have a very strict policy of never buying Halloween candy more than four days before the ghosts and goblins arrive, since I am sorely tempted by a houseful of Reese's Cups and Snickers.  (Since I am nothing if not eminently logical, I generally decide that the temptation would be gone if the chocolates were gone, and the most expedient way to rid myself of the temptation and chocolates is to eat them all.  Try poking a hole in that logic!)

    Prior to my trip to the grocery, I read this article on Getrichslowly.org about the negative environmental impact of and the forced child labor used by commercial chocolate.  Actually, to be honest, I didn't actually read the article.  I skimmed it.   Once I realized it was going to make me feel terribly guilty and would not be able to change my Halloween chocolate purchasing, the same logic that leads me to mainlining an entire bag of fun size Mars bars made me think that only reading every other sentence of information that I do care about would be the same as not actually knowing that information.  (Mind like a rusty trap, I tell you).

    Armed with this not-quite-information, I hightailed it to our local Target.

    Despite the fact that I could have bought non-chocolate treats to assuage my conscience, I filled my cart with commercial chocolate.  If you asked me at the time, I would have told you something high-minded, like "I don't want to be the house the neighbor kids whine about."  But the simple and dirty truth is that I wanted chocolate, and I never buy the stuff for myself.  I did at least get candy that was on sale (thereby ensuring that I would also not be the "good" house for our trick-or-treater, which means I could have just bought the Dum Dums anyway).

    Ethics, 0.  Chocolate cravings, 1.

    When I got home from shopping, I left the candy in the trunk of my car.  Out of sight, out of mind is what they tell us.  But it's simply not true.  My mind kept my legs working in a steady path from the computer to my car keys to the trunk to make sure that at least one of the bags of candy would never see the light of Halloween.  I waved to my neighbor painting his porch about five times.  Because neighborly embarrassment is not enough to keep the chocolate beast at bay.

    So now, not only have I bought ethically unsound candy, but I've also eaten it all myself and wasted money on individually wrapped treats when it would have been more efficient and cheaper to just down a bag of chocolate chips.

    And I need to buy a new bag of treats.

    I think this qualifies for a Halloween fail all around.

    However, I also know that I've had some time to let the concern over commercial chocolate sink in.  I can imagine myself not buying chocolate next year.  For Halloween 2012, I see a svelte, rich and ethical Mensch handing out Dum Dums or fair trade chocolate (or even homemade treats, because by that time I'll have gotten to know all my neighbors!) in a sustainable manner.

    Strange how in my vision I can still imagine surreptitiously sneaking out to the trunk of my car...

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