Navigating a Food Allergy
Creating a Safe Pantry
Eating out is a difficult chore for our family as it is for many families with a food allergy like ours (corn, food coloring), and it is somewhat a point of contention and compromise. We will sacrifice our beliefs about GMO, vegetable oils, pasteurization, and unethically harvested meats for the occasional guilty pleasure IF we can even find a guilty pleasure that does not first contain food coloring, corn syrup, cornstarch, or the corn allergen list of 184 common food ingredients!
It is just not worth it anymore. I was nervous for two days before a church potluck, and when we paid the price afterwards for an allergic reaction I decided that I will either never take my family to one again or will brown-bag it only to watch that gut-wrenching pain in my children’s eyes when everyone else is eating from the dessert table but them.
I found my answer, by the Authority of Wikipedia, I am not a foodie. It is not about food sensation for me. It is not about the rustic wood table and the perfectly laid napkin. No food stylist required. It is not about the restaurant lighting or stars on their review. It is not about trend or the buzz or the latest write-up.
It is about nourishing my healthy, happy family. It is about having something I produced, prepared, and preserved myself—knowing where our food comes from and knowing what to do with it for myself.
When the corn allergy first emerged in one child, the reality of what that meant hit my dad, who has been known to indulge in an occasional bowl of ice cream or bag of potato chips. He said, “Does this mean that none of your children can ever have corn? Are you keeping it from everyone?” His question was certainly well-meaning, as I—up to that point—was attempting to navigate this difficult allergy and thought perhaps we could make some compromises for the other kids. There was something about hearing my own question verbalized through him, though, which set my mind firmly. I responded,
“I need my pantry to be a safe place. My child needs to know that if Mommy serves it, it is safe, healthy, and nourishing. It needs to be that way for everyone in our house.“
You see, the world is a dangerous and scary place and there will be a lifetime of navigating through mistakes and problems, through dangers and pitfalls. Everyone needs somewhere to call safe and I want that place to be home. If I have poison labeled as food, if the very foundational level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (the physical subsistence of life) is called into question, will not every other thing I ever tell my children? Will my kids believe my code of morality, ethics, justice, or faith, if I compromise on that most fundamental level?
I am not a “food nazi”—well, wait, maybe I am…<elevator music while I search “food Nazi” on Wikipedia—HA! No such thing as a “food Nazi”!> Food is a very personal struggle—while we cannot do corn, someone else may not be able to gluten or eggs…the list goes on. I do not pretend that you and I have the same food concerns or struggles and I am not trying to win you over to my way of menu-planning or to my shopping habits. I do hope, though, that you are deliberate and conscientious in your choices—I would love to see everyone research what they choose to eat or to avoid. I would love to see everyone source their food closer to home, have a little extra set aside for a rainy day or a friend in need, and to be self sufficient in the kitchen!
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: