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New Levels of Nuttiness

GooberI’m not really about newsiness, if you haven’t noticed. I much prefer writing about things of little importance than current events. But I swear I’ve been channeling the New York Times dining section for the past two weeks. Last Wednesday they had the article about creating an indoor market in NYC when I had just been talking about the very thing (mostly an inner monologue) after visiting Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market.

Today, they tackled a pet peeve that I was actively researching for no purpose whatsoever last week: food allergies. This was prompted by a woman sitting at the table next to me at beerbistro on New Year’s Eve who made a point of asking if the desserts had peanuts in them because she was allergic. But she didn’t seem truly concerned, especially since she’d already taken a bite. I imagine if you were genuinely prone to goober-induced anaphylactic shock you would be more diligent than that.

I’ve always been very suspicious of people who claim allergies because I think with adults it’s just a way of legitimizing food aversions and quirks. A former coworker used to mention her chocolate allergy whenever treats were brought into the office, and I was convinced it was just a mental thing to keep from eating desserts. With kids it seems more the domain of neurotic overeducated, wealthy-yet-not-working mommies who have no real problems to fixate on. Seriously, according to the CDC only twelve people died from food allergies in 2004 (their most recent data).

Too bad I’m not a Harper’s subscriber because I’d like to read this month’s article, “Everyone's gone nuts: The exaggerated threat of food allergies.” “Are the dangers of childhood food allergy exaggerated?” provides a scholarly UK perspective.

So, I was a bit relieved that today’s article, “Food Allergies Stir a Mother to Action” painted Robyn O’Brien as somewhat of a crackpot. I do think it’s notable that children are increasingly allergic to food and I don’t doubt that manufacturers play some role with unnecessary chemicals and additives. But I just can’t take a grown woman seriously when her arms are smaller than her single-digit-aged daughter’s. Intentionally emaciated limbs person possessing sound reasoning.


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  1. emigre #

    She looks like a bobblehead doll here.

    January 10, 2008
  2. emigre: I was kind of hoping it was just the angle of the photo, but I don’t think so.

    Soccer Mom: As much as I’d like to spend my day reading allergy-related death memorials, I’m quite busy (with things that don’t involve team sports or parenting). I didn’t call anyone an “idiot” but thanks for proving my point.

    January 10, 2008
  3. ckc #

    That Harpers article was fantastic. I highly recommend it. If I could log on to the website at work I’d send it to you. (Is it strange that my company blocks Harper’s?)

    January 11, 2008
  4. Anna Flaxis #

    two words: stick insect….

    Here’s a winner–there’s a warning label on my asthma prescription inhaler that reads: “Do not use this product if you are allergic to peanuts” (!!). I think pulmonolgists and drug companies are in cahoots.

    It’s inevitable that a relatively small percentage of the population will react violently to and possibly die from a substance that is benign to the majority. Until it hits a critical mass, it’s an uphill battle for the truly affected; kind of like car recalls. At the end of the day, the food supply, processed, “organic” or otherwise, is contaminated.

    There are individuals who will blur the distinction between “food allergy” and “neurosis”. They make the rest of us look bad.

    January 11, 2008
  5. ckc: Luckily, my company doesn’t block anything. I can read all the freely available allergy nonsense in the world.

    Anna Flaxis: Yikes. I wonder what the peanutty substance in the medication is?

    January 15, 2008

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