I have to admit, this Weekly Geeks task had me stumped for a while. The task is:
Choose a political or social issue that matters to you. Find several books addressing that issue; they don’t have to books you’ve read, just books you might like to read.But once I found my topic, I knew it would be hard to stop writing about it!
My "social cause" is food allergies. I know this is not a huge topic like biodiversity or poverty, but it IS a huge issue in my house. My 6 year old son has multiple food allergies. He's allergic to: milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanut, tree nut, beef, and pork. That means that he can't eat anything that contains - or has TOUCHED - these foods. Yes, I know - it sounds crazy. We've adapted to it in our house, but outside our house is a whole other story!
I need to pack food for him every time we leave the house because I can't just pick up fast food if we get stuck out at meal time. We can only eat at The Outback because so far it is the only restaurant willing to make my son's meals safely every time. And of course, restaurants can't heat up food for us so if we eat anyplace else, we have to cook at home for him and bring it with us (and hope we get our food before his gets cold). At school, his teachers have been wonderful, making the kids wash their hands any time they handle food (because merely the touch of milk on a table or someone's hands will make my son break out in severe hives, or worse). During lunch, his desk is pushed up to the edge of his class's table so he can still sit with his buddies without running the risk of an allergen being on his spot at the table.
I just want people to be aware that allergies are serious business, and that those severe peanut allergies you hear about are NOT the only severe allergies out there. In my son's case, milk is the worst of his allergies. If I eat something with butter on it, I have to wash my lips before I kiss his cheeks or he'll break out.
What do I want people to know about this issue? Kids with allergies are everywhere, and they are just like other kids. But, they do need a little bit of extra protection. Please wash your hands after eating - even after snacks - and before touching door handles or railings. Also, a food allergy is not the same as a food intolerance. Someone with lactose intolerance may get stomach aches if they drink milk ... food allergies are immune disorders so a person with a milk allergy who drinks milk will likely end up in the hospital in anaphylactic shock.
For restaurant managers, learn more about allergies and educate your chefs and servers - we want to eat out, but it's just to dangerous for us. If your restaurant can handle food allergies please advertise that fact! There are lots of us out here who will give you business. And for the medical community, please continue to research the causes of food allergies and search for treatments ... I'm hopeful that by the time my son is an adult, there will be a "cure" for his allergies.
I know this is a bit 'rambly' but this is a huge issue for me. It's stressful for our family. I always stay positive about it in front of my son, but his food restrictions really get to me and I feel SO bad for him at times. I hope you can all understand what I'm trying to say, even though I jumped around a bit here ...
If you need more info on food allergies, or know someone who is struggling with this, The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network is an excellent resource.
[The books pictured above are not exactly on my reading list ... I'm sort of "allergied out" after reading this stuff for the past several years. But they are excellent resources for anyone who wants to learn more about food allergies. I DO have The Food Allergy Cookbook though!]