The Halloween Scrooge: GMOs and Food Allergies

I used to LOVE, no adore, Halloween. I honestly cannot remember a year in my life when I didn’t dress up and either went trick-or-treating or attended a costume party. Halloween is fun! It’s one day in the year when we get to be whoever we want, eat sweets till we drop, and beg to be scared silly. What’s not to love, right?

Two renegade pirates and their faithful parrot. Arrrggggg!

You know where I’m going with this. Then one day we realize candy isn’t everything. We either realize it’s loaded with harmful food allergies or loaded with toxic ingredients, or better yet, a combination of the two. And we think, hey, Halloween isn’t all about candy – there are still the costumes, haunted houses, and fun parties. We can have a candy-less Halloween.

This is where I’m having trouble this year. Because when you have a child in school, Halloween is pretty much all about the candy AND the costumes, they share equal billing it seems. Trick-or-treating is the talk of the town. Who’s going with who and where? What are you wearing? What’s your favorite type of Halloween candy? Which house gives the best or most candy? When I hear all this candy talk now, all I can think is – EEK! That crappy candy is loaded with allergies, genetically modified ingredients (sugar, corn and soy products), behavior altering food dyes, artificial flavors, and the list could go on and on and on….

How did I become the Scrooge of Halloween? It was a long journey, but now that I’m here, I really don’t want to be that person. I know I can still love this holiday. I need to love it for my kids. I want my children to have all the wonderful memories of Halloween that I remember growing up.

Goodbye Scrooge, Hello Switch Witch! (read on to learn about the Switch Witch)

Here is my plan for embracing Halloween once again, albeit with a VERY different perspective.


We will go trick-or-treating, as this is a Halloween ritual I want my children to experience for a couple of years. I don’t want my children accepting too much candy, so we’ll limit going door-to-door to 30 minutes or so. ALL candy will be left for the Switch Witch on Halloween night. Just who is the Switch Witch you ask? MamaNatural has a great video explaining about the Switch Witch. This witch adores candy and goes around eating as much children’s candy as she can find on Halloween night. If a child leaves candy out for her, she gladly scoops it up and leaves a present or safe/alternative candy in its place. Our witch will leave a handful of safe candy along with a small present for each of my kids. We’ve been talking about the Switch Witch for a week now and my son is really excited. Thank goodness for the Switch Witch! (Candy will actually be taken to my husband’s work for others to enjoy. Hey, I don’t want to be wasteful and throw it out. Remember, we won’t have much, a couple of hand-fulls, max.)

Just a little green reminder. Don’t accept or buy any new Halloween bags for gathering candy. Try using reusable shopping bags or old purses instead.

Costumes & Makeup

Since we try to reuse and recycle whenever possible, my children’s costumes are used. We found everything online through Kijiji or Craigslist and will sell them back or give them to friends to use the next year. Makeup is another thing completely. Generally, I try to stick with costumes that don’t require makeup since costume makeup and eczema do not fair well together. Here is a recipe for making your own more natural costume makeup at home, but it does call for food dyes, which aren’t exactly healthy. Or you can try some of the non-toxic costume makeup kits out there.

School Parties

I was feeling a little apprehensive about how the school would celebrate Halloween, so I contacted the teacher and have been promised they will let me know if there will be food involved. Regardless, I’ll probably send an extra special allergy-free snack to school with my son that day – just to be on the safe side.

With our plans in place I’m starting to feel the old Halloween spirit returning to this older, more jaded mama. Now, time to plan my costume!

Looking for more ideas? Here are some tips for a allergy-free Halloween courtesy of the Kids with Food Allergies Foundation. This is also a great article from Gina Glowes via Allergic Living Magazine. And here are some ideas for celebrating a greener, more earth friendly Halloween.

How do you celebrate Halloween? What about this holiday are you struggling with this year?


  1. Eczema Mom on October 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Sorry to hear that NAET didn’t work for your little one. I’ll keep you posted on our experience with NMT. What I do with my son is tell him he can trade in his candy for a trip to the toy store, and I also have some safe candy he can eat. This is a no brainer for him, toys are so important to him. It is nice though that these days he can tolerate some candy, even though I really try to limit it.

    • Jennifer on October 19, 2012 at 11:13 am

      That’s a great idea – a trip to the toy store. Yes, like you, thrilled our son can have some candy, but he’s very limited. It makes Halloween a little easier. Looking forward to your feedback on NMT! I’m thrilled we’ve connected as I think we have similar views on eczema. Jennifer

      • Jessica will on October 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        What are some good candies that work for y’all? I have no idea where to begin!

        • Jennifer Roberge on October 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

          We like surf sweets because they are safe and natural. Suncups are good too.

  2. Heather Tomoyasu (@Mama_Heza) on October 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I LOVE the switch witch idea! I guess you gotta sell it well and start at the beginning, I’m not sure an 8 year old would fall for it if they’d been consuming their Halloween loot for the past few years. I hope to do the Switch Witch with Kenzo when he is old enough, but I can already imagine where all his candy will go… not daddy’s workplace… haha!!

    • Jennifer on October 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

      It’s been working for us the past two years. I just hate for my kids to miss out on yet another food related activity and dressing up is so much fun! Plus the staying out late with your friends, etc….so, Switch Witch it is. Once the candy is collected, send it away pronto or you’ll be tempted to eat it all up. Or control the qty and only let Kenzo trick or treat for 30-60 minutes.

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