Green Halloween & Two Americas?
So, I read this article recently about a mother in Seattle who started a movement she calls Green Halloween, the idea being that we can still have a fun holiday without being completely junked-out on unhealthy, corporate candy.
She offers alternatives to candy, alternative candies (better for our bodies, from companies that treat Earth better), and ideas for good, old-fashioned party games that don’t revolve around junk food. (Remember pumpkin-carving, bobbing for apples?) Anyone can print out a Green Halloween logo, and communities are encouraged to have parties or neighborhood participation in this healthier (but still fun) version of the beloved holiday.
I thought, this is great! We’re a long-time healthy-eating and green family, with a child who has serious food allergies on top of that, so the M&M/Mars version of Halloween is not something we happily anticipate. And, yet, I’ve always loved Halloween for the costumes, community and lore. So, I sent the links about Green Halloween to two online groups I participate in, thinking that everyone would see its brilliance.
The first group, our natural parenting playgroup, didn’t react much online. But when we got to our park meet-up last week, many of the moms commented on how great it was. And one brave mom has offered to host the Green Halloween party for our gang, as an alternative to mass trick-or-treating. (We can still do our immediate neighbors, for the experience, if we choose, which is really plenty. They are only toddlers after all!) Anyway, ideas to action, very cool!
Interestingly, though, the other group I posted on, a group for families with food-allergic children, responded enthusiastically online — against the idea of Green Halloween. More interestingly, they made it clear that they hadn’t even read the article. They wanted their kids to have Skittles (which are apparently allergen-free) and knock on every door, and anyone telling them anything otherwise could dance off the roof. One poster said she bets kids will run the other way if they see a Green Halloween sign on a house.
Wow. In my little bubble, I thought, who could hate this idea? Healthy for our kids, healthy for the planet. But I forget that the M&M/Mars version of Halloween is held tightly by many, many Americans. To stoke change, even healthier change, often incites anger (really, fear) and resistance.
The playgroup parents are already searching for healthier alternatives — I suppose you could call us “alternative” as a group, in fact. The food allergy group, I am learning, tends to be more representative of mainstream America. There’s a lot of talk about which fast food joints are allergy-safe. (In my world, none, but not just for allergy reasons!) There’s a clinging to “traditional” foods (yes, trans fats, the great American tradition!) and fitting in.
It was good for me to remember these particular “two Americas,” I think. To remember that we still have a long way to go for a healthier nation and world. We can sometimes live in our like-minded circles and forget others think so drastically differently.
I will continue to promote movements like Green Halloween, that focus on health and the environment. These issues should transcend political, religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. And, yet, I know well that they don’t always. I know well that Green Halloween targets a specific (and privileged) group of us who have the time and ability to make this level of change, and are not just trying to survive.
However, there is a group out there who are more than surviving, and who can make these changes, but are unwilling. I learned in my feminist studies days that it is often most effective to target the “next” group over (for example, targeting people within our generation on feminist issues, rather than trying to change our grandparents’ generation, more set in their ways).
So, I think I will use this theory here. And the food allergy group may need to hear from me again. This Green Halloween thing, and the ideas behind it, could infiltrate there. There’s an opening, as they care about their kids’ health enough to be there. (And I know there are some green/healthy-eating parents on there, too — they just didn’t pipe in on my post!)
I just need an a-ha in their language. I’ll keep thinking. I mean, haven’t we had enough M&M/Mars holidays? Do we really need our kids hoarding junky candy? (No, that’s definitely not the angle to take!) Can’t we all just get a little green?
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