my big hairy audacious goal
Hi there fellow allergic foodie,
With 33 years with the same wonderful guy I've had some time to think about the plague he has lived with all his life - anaphylaxis.
So much of the research around allergy and dietary ailments appears to be trial and error at the outcome end, rather than examining what changes have occurred in the farming practices, and manufacturing processes. For example, are you aware of how much intervention is involved in peanut farming?
I believe we need an Erin Brockovich style investigation to expose what the food industry is doing to corrupt our food in the name of convenience, appearance, longevity, high yield and PROFIT. What if immune response was not abnormal, but simply an individual's normal response to reaching toxic levels of additives in food. Did you know that the food industry has lower standards for consumption than the medicine industry, when it comes to trials about whether something is safe or not? For a long time politicians have been more concerned about currying favour with business than community health. However, consumers are fighting back, evident by many food documentaries out now such as "Food Inc", "Food Fight", "The Truth about Food", "Food Matters", "That Sugar Film", "Rotten" etc.
I believe food should be just that: food. Not traces of pesticides (who has really confirmed what is safe level?), herbicides, fertilisers, humectants (keeping food moist long term on the shelf), mould inhibitors (because the food is moist), thickeners, flocculants (removing suspended particles: cloudiness), glazing agents, artificial colours (both to make food look good), antibiotics (because high density animal farming lends itself to rampant disease), or hormones (because demand for meat exceeds natural supply: to increase growth rates).
The current theory on allergen prevention is early introduction of the allergen (before 12 months). My husband is 50 and anaphylactic to nuts and shellfish. He also used to be anaphylactic to dairy and egg. He was raised in the era when clinic nurses recommended you introduce foods by the quarter teaspoonful while still beast-feeding - so the theory of early introduction of allergens as a prevention doesn't hold water. My 20 year old daughter is anaphylactic to milk and reacted to the first milk based formula she was given at 18 months. As a baby she had extreme "colic" (we were sleep deprived) which I now believe was her reaction to the cows milk I was drinking while she was breastfeeding. We delayed introducing solids to our daughter because of my husband's allergies but didn't know my diet was already affecting her through my breastmilk.
The "Story of Stuff"
states (some) breastmilk has been found to have the highest concentrations of toxins out of all foods. I expect cows milk to be similar, concentrating antibiotics and hormones administered to them. What IF industry is doing wrong by us and our immune systems are right in responding to poisons in our food? Personally, I am grateful to my husbands anaphylaxis for making me more food conscious.
One allergen: Shellfish, are also considered the vacuum cleaners of the sea - they filter and accumulate heavy metals and toxins - so it's no wonder to me that some people become anaphylactic. Maybe the reason some people become anaphylactic and some don't, could be that some people have accumulated toxic levels depending on how much their affected food intake has been. I would like to see long term comparisons between low intervention food communities (organic diet) and processed food diet for each allergen - tracking the food chain, and the results in the human body. Further, it would be interesting to study the different members of the same family and assess the similarities and differences of environmental risks between each family member, and the generation above has experienced. Also, I wonder if any studies have been done on whether people have become anaphylactic after being on long term organic diets? I believe more data overall is needed to establish cause and effect.
I feel it's in the food industry's interest to keep the research focus on the individual affected than on their corrupt treatment of our food, and in the pharmaceutical industry's interest to keep the market alive and to be seen as effective, when it's merely a band-aid approach. I suspect food allergy and intolerance are simply two of many symptoms (eg. cancer, arthritis, chronic fatigue, etc) of a profit-focused food industry. It's time the focus came back to what matters - people.
So.. my BHAG* is to fund research into the cause of allergic conditions and then relentlessly pursue a solution to a successful outcome. Wouldn't it be great if allergies were no longer prevalent and I end up putting myself out of business?!! I believe food should in no way be a threat to our health, rather, it should be nourishing, healing, protective, and delicious!
'Any Erin Brockovich wanna-be's out there, to get the bottom of the causes of allergy?
* "A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines."
— Collins and Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies