The Coast News Group
Sustainable Santa, Peri-the-Scarecrow and Jimmy Ukegawa promote kids’ exploration and creativity at the Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze held each year at the Carlsbad Strawberry Fields. Courtesy photo

North County holiday traditions focus on gifts of good health

The Real Santas United to end Childhood Obesity are taking aim at not only promoting a “healthy Christmas season,” but they’re taking on the excessive sugar tsunami that takes place on Halloween, says Sustainable Santa, the Carlsbad-based leader of the group which has now expanded statewide. 

North County farmers market managers like Claire Winnick, who manages the Sunday morning farmers market at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead east of Interstate 15 in Escondido, and Mark Wall, who manages the Saturday morning Vista Farmers Market in the courthouse parking lot on Melrose Avenue, are helping by offering parents the option of purchasing “nature’s candy” as Halloween handouts.   

These are healthy treats of real food: fresh, raw, dehydrated, fermented and natural. Dehydrated fruits like star fruit, persimmons and blood oranges; honey sticks filled with real local honey; locally grown macadamia nuts and wholesome fresh fruits are all tasty and nutritious treats instead of the sugar-loaded candy concoctions traditionally associated with Halloween fare.   

“We want to encourage parents to think about what kind of treats they will be handing out,” Winnick said.

In the Vista market, the healthy gifts and handouts promotion begins Oct. 21 with a Wellness Fair with the “wellness” focus continuing the following month on Nov. 18 when one of the Real Santas United will also be in attendance to show kids how to “make that Holiday Gift, not just buy it.”

“It’s all part of our Santa team effort to promote kids being ‘creative’ and becoming ‘Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life,’” said Sustainable Santa.

On Oct. 29, three days before Halloween, at the Sikes Adobe Farmers Market in Escondido all the vendors will be sampling their different versions of “nature’s candy” which the Santa in attendance calls “garden bites.” They are part of the Santas’ three-part healthy kids promotions conducted in markets throughout California aimed at helping parents get their kids off the “standard American diet, or SAD, of fast, junk and processed “food-like-substances.” It shows kids the joy and fun of eating real food.

“When kids say ‘trick or treat,’ we want them to know the ‘treat’ of eating real food,” Winnick said.

It is the sugar industry that is promoting the “tricks,” according to Sustainable Santa, aka Dr. Richard Eckfield, whose Sustainable Santa Foundation teams with health concerned nonprofits statewide to try to reverse the catastrophe of kids’ ill-health which has exploded the past 30 years.

The trifecta of fast, junk and processed “foods,” stripped of nutritional values and the fiber so important to good digestion, has led to this explosion of diet-driven illnesses never seen in kids just a few decades ago, Sustainable Santa said. Sugar, in the amounts now consumed by kids, is toxic, with illnesses like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease becoming one of the fastest-growing ailments showing up in elementary school age kids, he added.

We’re here to help the parents help their kids eat healthy and live a sustainable lifestyle, Sustainable Santa said. That’s the “new message” provided by the 21st century Santas, who are no longer the old obese, sugar candy, cookie and sugary drink pushers. That guy was invented as a “Sugar Salesman” by the Coca-Cola Company back in 1931 and that message is now 86 years out of date, Sustainable Santa said.