The Ethical Easter Basket Tastes Sweeter














This is the year of the ethical Easter basket, but it doesn’t have to make you a killjoy.

Food activists of all stripes are bringing their agendas to the spring holiday reminding us of all the pesticides and food dyes and GMOs and child labor that create cheap chocolate bunnies and tongue-staining jelly eggs.

Roll your eyes if you must at the litany of fair trade, cruelty-free, shade-grown, bird-friendly, carbon neutral causes, but the designations and certifications aren’t mere marketing ploys to ease a guilty conscience. They have real, enforceable teeth that guarantee the soundness of manufacturing and growing practices. The hard truth is that a conventional Easter basket is a treat for you but it can be an environmental and humanitarian nightmare for someone else.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ethical alternatives for all your jelly beans, pastel marshmallows, and foil-wrapped chocolate eggs:



Tim’s Real Easter Basket Grass
lose the chemical-laden shredded plastic and go organic from the ground up


YumEarth Jelly Beans
they’re organic with no gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, artificial colors, or dyes



Not Peeps, Veeps
they’re vegan; who knew there’s a pork byproduct lurking in the conventional marshmallow bunnies?


Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks
don’t forget about Annie’s many organic bunny products, available year-round



Sjaak’s Chocolate Easter Eggs
fairly traded, organic, vegan, and best of all they come in really big tubs



Lake Champlain chocolate bunnies
always widely available and this year they’ve gone fair trade and organic




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Chillin’ With My Peeps

Forget about basketball; early spring is Marshmallow Madness time.

February’s chocolate hearts were remaindered weeks ago, and summer sun block lies in wait. For now, the seasonal aisles of drug stores and supermarkets are stocked with the brightly-hued marshmallow chicks and bunnies of Easter.

More than a billion Peeps will be sold this year. While most will end up in the green excelsior grass of Easter baskets, a third of them are destined for bigger things.

Peeps have become icons of American pop culture. People don’t just eat Peeps; they photograph them, write songs about them, pen odes to them, and make crafts with them. There are online collections of Peeps artwork, recipes, and haiku (Wet rainy spring days with moist cold air, my breath cries: Will you never stale?). There are film parodies from the Tolkien-inspired Lord of the Peeps to marshmallow-soft porn dedicated to the hottest chicks on the web.

There’s an entire subculture of Peeps fetishists that is fascinated by their unique ability to withstand factors that would be the ruin of lesser candies. While countless amateurs toss Peeps into microwaves, PeepResearch.org has elevated the level of scientific inquiry through extensive laboratory studies documented with dry, clinical detachment.

The Peeps phenomenon has been fueled by high profile cultural events. For years National Geographic sponsored an annual Peeps in Places competition inviting readers to submit photographs of Peeps in far-flung locations. Over the years it brought classic entrants like the one-eared bunny at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and soul-singing chicks at Detroit’s Motown Museum. And every spring the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other newspapers around the country sponsor Peeps diorama contests. You can read each year’s entries like a cultural barometer, which meant that 2011 saw plenty of marshmallow Justin Biebers and Charlie Sheens (Two and a Half Peeps), and this year was all about the OccuPeeps Movement.

What is it about Peeps that inspires such passion?
We anthropomorphize these winsome critters in ways that are surreal and slightly unsettling, and all they do is peer at us through blank, sugar-blackened eyes, giving back little more than a sugar rush.
I can’t tell you what it is about Peeps, but I do know that nobody ever built a scale model White House for a Cadbury Creme Egg to live in.

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