A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

A Bittersweet Serving of Halloween
By Ezinne Ukoha
Halloween has a long tradition filled with fun and creativity with kids and adults playing dress up and filling their stomachs with every sweet confection accessible. But the reality is that most of the candy we allow our kids to gobble up are being mass-produced in ways that are far from ideal. Like a lot of our produce, the potential for genetically modification filtering into the ingredients used to make candy and chocolate is a growing concern because of the lasting effects it could have on consumers.
The use of pesticides is also becoming dangerously more popular. Parents who are oblivious to the controversy surrounding the food production epidemic that has gripped North America will be stunned to know how certain ingredients normally found in candy like soy crop and corn crop have been grossly modified from their natural state in order to facilitate massive production to meet the demand of supply and reap substantial profits.
Another scary illustration of this is linked to reports that have been circulating that involve the way dairy is produced in the U.S. It has been suggested that dairy cows are now customarily injected with (rBGH) – Bovine Growth Hormone. This practice is crucial because it encourages the increase of milk production from the injected cows. The milk that contains rBGH has increases of pus that are a result of infected cows and then antibiotics, which are used to treat the infections. Various forms of cancer can also be an end result of consuming milk laced with rBGH thanks to the high levels of a hormone, IGF-1.
Most of Canada and Europe have worked hard to ban rBGH but this is stillposing a challenge for the Northern American territory. Schools are working overtime to eradicate any milk that contains this potentially dangerous hormone from their cafeteria, but parents should be warned that there is a high chance that the Halloween candy they are distributing to the neighborhood kids and also feeding their own could very well have rBGH in it. Its also frightening to note that pesticides are frequently used to help grow the ingredients used to produce our candy and chocolate. This is obviously harmful especially to the younger children because of their fragile developmental stage and the fact that they tend to consume more in order to accommodate their growing bodies. So they are more likely to be affected by the consequences of being exposed to pesticides deposited in their food and water.

Aside from the battle with unhealthy way our foods are mass-produced, there is also the fact that our favorite chocolate candy bars are in abundance as a direct result of slave labor, which is sadly common in many parts of West Africa. West Africa also happens to be one of the biggest exporters of cocoa. Producing about 70% of the world’s cocoa supply with Ivory Coast claiming ownership of 40%.  But the cost of this mass-production is quite high. The International Labor Rights’ Fund has done the research and the results are staggering. Child labor laws are not in effect when it comes to the production of cocoa with children working unimaginable hours, constantly being exposed to harmful agents, and enduring physical abuse and unnecessary punishment. All in the effort to keep big name giants like Hershey’s and M&M/Mars in business.

This may all put a damper on the spirit of Halloween but it is surprisingly in line with the theme of Halloween. The truth about the candy business is frightening and it is hauntingly clear that action has to be taken to make Halloween scarily fun and safe for all consumers.