What are the healthiest fair trade foods?

County fair season is in full swing in northeast Ohio, and hundreds of thousands of Ohioans are enjoying all it has to offer: rides, face painting and, of course, delicious fair food. Unfortunately, most of our favorite (and fried) meals are high in fat, sodium, and sugar.

That means visitors should skip the food, right? Not necessarily.

“A lot of the foods at the fair aren’t going to be the healthiest foods you can eat,” said Emily Iammarino, pediatric dietician at MetroHealth. “But it’s a special occasion. If you want to treat yourself, that’s fine. It’s just important to do it in moderation.”

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The Ohio State Fair

Caramel corn is on our list of the top ten most popular fair trade foods.

To maintain your health, there is no food that a person should absolutely never eat, she explained. The key is moderation: there are foods we want to eat every day like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods and those that contain fats and proteins. And there are some foods that we should eat infrequently – like when the good weather arrives.

Below is a list of some of the most popular Fair Trade treats – according to our informal poll – and their nutritional information, according to Calorie King.

Rather than trying to figure out exactly how many calories a food has or exactly how many grams of fat it contains, Iammarino recommends eating slowly and paying attention to how you feel while you eat.

Top 10 Favorite Fair Trade Foods

1. Elephant Ears
The flaky, deep-fried, cinnamon-sweetened treat is the king of fair food! One serving contains approximately 450 calories and 30 grams of fat. It would take about two hours of walking to burn one, so be sure to wear your walking shoes!

2. Funnel Cake
In second place, we have everyone’s favorite powdered sugar snack. Each serving contains approximately 580 calories. Although funnel cake contains about the same grams of fat as elephant ears, it contains more than four times as much sugar.

Ohio State Fair Food
Lemonade is so delicious – especially when it’s hot – but it might be a good idea to split it up because it’s high in sugar and often comes in very large portions, according to a dietitian.

3. Fried Oreos
A platter of five fried Oreos is the equivalent of eating two whole elephant ears!

4. Giant Corn Dog
A fair classic! At 375 calories and 21 grams of fat, walking just over an hour and a half should burn a giant corn dog.

5. Cotton candy
Cotton candy itself is not extremely high in calories. An average serving contains about 220 calories and no fat. However, it contains 56 grams of sugar and this can affect energy levels.

“We can come together after feeling like we’re in an energy crash,” Iammarino said.

6. Hot corn or caramel corn
The two types of popcorn are both big hits at the fair, but they are very different nutritionally. Hot corn is among the healthiest options available, as one cup contains about 35 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Each cup, about two handfuls, takes about 10 minutes of walking to burn.

Caramel corn, on the other hand, contains nearly 1,000 calories and 23.7 grams of fat per cup. One cup equals almost four and a half hours of walking.

7. Fried cheese curds
A serving of fried cheese curds is comparable to a funnel cake, with 580 calories and 40 grams of fat.

8. Fried mac & cheese (dumplings or on a stick)
Fried mac and cheese is high in calories. One serving contains up to 1,000 calories!

9. Lemonade
It’s hard to estimate the calorie count for this one because each type of lemonade varies from vendor to vendor, but it’s still high in sugar and often served in a very large cup, Iammarino said.

“Try to make it last a long time. Try sipping it throughout the day rather than drinking it all at once,” she said. “Or try sharing it with someone so you don’t consume so much sugar at once.

10. Candy apples
To close out our list, we have a timeless fair trade treat. With around 214 calories and zero grams of fat, a walking candy apple takes around an hour to burn off our system.

Ohio State Fair Food

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The Ohio State Fair

A candy apple is the nostalgic choice of the fair. If you feel like it, enjoy it, Iammarino said. Just eat slowly and pay attention to how you feel.

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