As it became clear that my chosen path was to become a Candy Man, I began an internal debate on the pros and cons of getting into the sweets business. Is candy good or bad for you? Am I peddling delicious treats or some drug-like substance? As an avid student of health and nutrition I began to explore what I was getting into. I realized several things: first, that there are different types of health; second that the consumer’s habits are just that, the consumer’s; third, that candy is honest about what it is; and fourth, that I could improve upon conventional candy recipes to make them healthier for our bodies while still delivering on the treat-like decadence.
First: what is health? In my mind there are two types of health: physical and mental/spiritual health. Physical health is what we are most familiar with. How specific substances interact with our body’s chemistry and physiology. In this realm, candy is not particularly healthy. It is often (but not always) based on sugar, and too much sugar is not a good thing. Candy should therefore be eaten in moderation. Where candy is healthy however is in the mental and spiritual realm. There are certainly times when we deserve a little something special. When eating an artfully crafted treat is just the thing to help lift our spirits. In this way, I believe candy falls into the same category as music, art and other fine foods: life would be livable without them, but what kind of a life would it be? We all know people that are militant about their nutrition, but at the end of the day are they really completely healthy when their spirit lacks that spark that comes from joyfulness and the occasional indulgence?
Second: Candies are like many of life’s special treats., they are meant for moderate consumption. You shouldn’t eat a gourmet French meal, fried foods, drink coffee, soft drinks, or alcohol every day. You shouldn’t watch TV, play video games all the time either. In moderation, however, these are all ok, even enriching. You cannot blame the treat when the consumer misuses it.
Third: Candy is honest, it does not try to hide what it is like many other sugar packed foods. Candy provides only 6 percent of the added sugar in the American diet, while sweet drinks and juice supply 46 percent. “There’s reason to believe that sugar in liquid form is actually worse than candy, because it fills you up and displaces healthier food choices,” says Rachel Johnson, a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont who was the lead author of the American Heart Association’s comprehensive 2009 review of the scientific literature on sugar and cardiovascular health.
Finally, why not try to make candy better for our bodies? Why not use organic sweeteners and get rid of herbicides and pesticides that are conventionally used? Why not replace corn syrup with organic brown rice syrup or organic tapioca syrup? Why not make a caramel without the dairy, using coconut milk with its healthy fats instead? Why not use herbs, spices and natural flavors in our candy rather than artificial ones? Why not deliver minerals by using high quality sea salt and other benefits by infusing some candy with herbs?
With each little step, making sure our treats are delicious throughout, candy can become a safe indulgence. A smile-maker. A conversation starter. A reward well earned. Please enjoy your sweets responsibly and remember,
Life is Sweet!