By Christopher Angell
While conventional candy bars have long been thought of as treats for all ages, the organic chocolate market has been much more strongly oriented towards adult consumers. Dark, minimal packaging, flavors described in terms of cacao percentage, and larger, more expensive format bars, meant to be enjoyed a few squares at a time, are all a departure from the fun, grab-and-go candy bars of the past. And while those bars still exist, many also still contain a lot of ingredients that consumers try to avoid by shopping in natural/organic markets, such as high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and preservatives, and non-organic dairy, to name a few.
Given that the benefits of being certified organic–ingredients grown without toxic, pesticides, lack of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), freedom from irradiation, among others – it’s surprising that such a universally beloved product as the candy bar has lagged so far behind other traditional comfort foods such as macaroni and cheese, pizza, ice cream, and popcorn in being organically produced.
While there are a number of sweet snacks labeled as “all-natural”, there is no binding standard for what a product must (or must not) contain to carry that label, which can be a confusing proposition for consumers looking to spare themselves or their families specific chemicals or GMOs.
The good news is that, in Santa Monica and other communities where concern for health and the environment is a top priority, there are increasingly more affordable and convenient products to allow the whole family to enjoy the occasional sweet treat without fear of the sort of ingredients listed above. Several California companies, including Angell Organic Candy Bars (created by my wife and me), are now producing traditional-style candy bars out of healthier, more responsibly grown ingredients.
While there are many different styles and flavors available, what makes them all similar is a focus on familiar, nostalgic tastes and textures, with an emphasis on chocolate, crunch, and chew.
Some health writers and nutritionists are fond of saying things like “just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy” and that’s true. With enough effort, you could make a certified organic version of almost anything. Still, while organic sugar is still a simple carbohydrate, and organic salt still has sodium, for the most part, when you eat organic, you know that everything that you’re eating is disclosed on the wrapper.
With non-organic foods, they don’t tell you what pesticides they were grown with, or whether or not they contain GMOs, which can prevent you form making truly informed decisions about your health and nutrition.
Besides, every once in a while, we all need a sweet treat. Now, you have more options than ever to make that treat both delicious and free from chemical additives.
Christopher Angell is President of Angell Bars (www.angellbar.com).