The end of October is a sugar rush, kids dress up in Halloween costumes and grab as much sticky candy as they can. But the prospect of scooping up and eating an entire bag of candy is scary when you think about the impact.
Halloween favorites are not only good for children’s health, but many candy ingredients are obtained through processes that harm the planet. Cacao grows in rainforests that have been cleared for cultivation, for example. And unsustainable sugarcane production can also emit large amounts of planet-warming gases.
Then there are all the sweets that go to waste.
But Amy Keller says she has a sweet solution. Keller is part of the Spangler Candy family, the company behind candies like Dum Dums Lollipops. The family business is taking a new spin with Climate Candy by trying to tackle child nutrition, global food waste and the climate crisis.
FAVES plant-based chewy treats contain ingredients such as tapioca syrup, a low-calorie sweetener, stevia extract and sustainable palm oil. And each package of FAVES contains four servings of fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be wasted at farms and grocery stores, the company says. They come in carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash – all nutritious superfoods – and in flavors like cherry, orange, lemon and strawberry.
“Food is fuel,” Keller, co-founder and CEO of PurePlus, told CNN. “For me, building something like Climate Candy is affordable and accessible. You can enter the doors, the houses, and people talk about the climate in a very fun way.’
About a third of all food is wasted worldwide, according to Project Drawdown, and this food waste accounts for roughly 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, ReFed – a non-profit organization dedicated to ending food loss and waste across the country – estimated that nearly 90 billion meals of food go unsold or uneaten each year.
That’s terrible for the planet, because wasted food – from food shelves, restaurant leftovers or perishable items left in fridges – eventually ends up in landfills, where it produces methane, an invisible and odorless gas with more than 80 times the warming power. near term than carbon dioxide.
Keller said Climate Candy offers a solution to the food waste problem because of the ingredients her company chooses.
The most beautiful fruits and vegetables usually end up in food stories. They are the right shape and size to be sold in stores and fit consumers’ ideas of what fruit and vegetables should look like.
But there’s a second tier that “goes unharvested, back to the ground or sent to animal feed or landfills,” said Keller, who has a career in environmental and health. “And these are good fruits and vegetables.”
Climate Candy turns some of that product into something that doesn’t go to waste and has a much longer life.
“There’s more than enough to go around,” Keller said of the wasted produce. “And none of the food banks can sustain it, because it’s perishable.”
With Halloween approaching, Keller said Climate Candy would be a valuable addition to trick-or-treat bags, but also sees it as a healthy alternative to traditional candy year-round.
“Halloween is coming and everybody’s going to have bite-size everything, and that’s a day to be nice,” Keller said. “What we’re saying is, guess what, the other 364 days of the year? This may be what you can have from a sweet tooth perspective. And I think it’s just something that can be nostalgic for that next generation.”