Dear Umbra,

As a hall adviser at a college where social activism is valued, I find myself stuck when it comes to entertaining en masse. Sure, I buy from local farms when buying snacks for myself, but when leaving goodies for my hall, putting the ever-enticing winter squash outside a resident’s door does not say “midnight snack.” Basically, I want to have my candy and eat it too. How can I appeal to the green in me while appealing to the love for crap food on my hall?

Jessie Posilkin
Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Dearest Jessie,

Mmm, raw delicata slices. Fiber.

Whatever gets you through the night.

Photo: iStockphoto.

As we know, I usually try to avoid talking about health issues, but in this instance the implications of student diets provide excellent support for your green leanings. The freshman 15 can be conflated with the U.S. obesity problem, and presto, you are responsible for the onset of type II diabetes. The last thing we want is hyped-up, sugared-up, partially hydrogenated students sending the wrong message to their metabolisms. Right? It is your duty to provide them with financially feasible, healthful snacks whenever possible.

You already know we’re looking for local and/or organic. Fruit springs to mind: a box of winter-storage apples from a local orchard, or organic imported winter “hand” fruit like oranges, bananas, or kiwis. Nuts are an excellent high-protein snack, available organically and in bulk. They’re not exciting, but no hungry person turns them down (OK, OK, unless they are allergic).You could get pre-made trail mix at a natural-food store and leave it out in paper cups, or make your own with ecologically correct ingredients.

In terms of food recognizable as candy, there are many choices, but I don’t know what your access to a natural-food store is like. To feed your tired masses, I suspect you may have to order bulk online, or maybe there is some way to order bulk at the local food store — usually they will allow people to order in quantity from their distributor and will give a small discount. Bulk goodies would have to be cleverly hidden and portioned out over time. Organic gummy animals, fair-trade chocolate, hard candy, lemon suckers, potato chips, cheese explosion sticks … all yours for the asking. They’ll be more expensive, but you may decide it is worth it to inculcate your young charges into the organically certified world.

So much of our snack food today is grown in the tropics (bananas) or is highly processed (cheese puffs), most folks would be up a creek on local. But if you can’t resist the old-school snacks, you are in a perfect situation. You live in Pennsylvania, my friend, home of Hershey. Voila: a giant, chocolatey loophole in the local rule.

Extra Darkly,
Umbra