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By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Something Organic This Way Comes?

One of the trickiest things about Halloween is choosing the right treats for the little monsters, petite pop stars and adorable angels who show up at your door.Sure, Halloween candy is plentiful at the local megamart — and relatively cheap. But it's also a sugar-, fat- and chemical-fueled nightmare that is much more trick than treat."Low-priced conventional candy will be laden with GMO beet sugar and GMO corn syrup, and parents should steer clear of these," says Annie Hoy, outreach/communications manager at the Ashland Food Co-op. "Most of the conventional name-brand candies offered by large scale retailers would most likely fall into this category. Off-brands are equally bad."But all is not lost. Nancy Butcher, store manager at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage in Medford, says business at her store always picks up around Halloween with people looking for better options to the traditional, mass-produced candy you find on most retailers' shelves."The best guideline is to go organic and non-GMO as much as possible when looking for healthier treats," she says, adding that natural foods stores like Natural Grocers offer a variety of alternatives.Kellie Hill, nutritional therapy practitioner with The Right Plan Nutrition Counseling, suggests skipping candy altogether and handing out small, pre-packaged "real foods" such as raisins, fruits and cheese.And in case you were wondering if it's OK to skip the candy and other food treats altogether, Hill says, "Sure!" Many parents opt instead to hand out Halloween decorations, glow sticks, balloons, stickers, tattoos, small games, toys, party favors, pencils or pens, even small toothbrushes."Although your house might get egged later," she adds about that last option.

Lori Hopkinson, general manager at the Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market, reminds that the Wild Bee Honey Farm sells fully sealed natural honey sticks at the market.But what of the candy your little ones bring home? There are options that might make it easier to pry that coveted Snickers bar from his or her little hands."Rather than banning the candy, decide with the children how many treats they can have," Hill says. And let them make well-considered choices as to which they will keep."Another option is to check with local dentists' offices. Some will allow children to trade in treats for books or small toys, even cash. Or you can do the same at home.And of course, teaching children to "enjoy treats in moderation" is important, as well, Hill says.If you want to avoid the candy complication altogether, skip trick-or-treating and either host a party where you can control the foods served or plan another event to keep the kids' minds otherwise entertained — a walk around a local cemetery or visit to a haunted house attraction, perhaps.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs, Something Organic This Way Comes?