I recently learned that my husband's aunt went into anaphylactic shock after eating cherries. It turns out her daughter can no longer eat cherries, plums, pears or peaches. Her son can no longer eat walnuts. My father-in-law has recently developed a food sensitivity to MSG and soy. My father, who has suffered from environmental allergies for the better part of his life, is now finding that foods containing dairy and gluten bother him too. In my own case, I developed a severe intolerance to several foods around the age of 32. My son is two, and we've recently discovered he cannot tolerate anything with coconut, in addition to everything else we are restricting from his diet. It seems as though all generations are developing food allergies and sensitivities. It makes me wonder, are we seeing food reactions earlier in each generation or are we all reacting to some new strange phenomenon in our food at the same time? Is it something in the food, or is it a unique tipping point that's different for everyone? What has changed to cause so many people - of all ages - to develop allergies to the very substances we need to survive? There are so many questions floating around in my head and not enough answers.
Fortunately, my husband's aunt was near a hospital so that she could receive immediate medical attention. I shudder to think of what would have happened had she been out an hour or two away. With the rate at which new and serious allergies seem to be popping up, I worry about where the next reaction will come from. I'm looking at the bowl of cherries I've been feeding my son this week, and I'm debating whether or not I should give him any more. How do I protect my family from eating seemingly innocent foods, like cherries? Must we all start carrying EPI-pens with us?
I can't help but worry about what is happening: society is becoming allergic to the very food that nourishes us. Food that is supposed to be keeping us healthy is instead making us sick. How did this happen? I think the answer to that, while probably long and complicated, can be summed up by these words: we gave up control of our food supply. When we stopped producing our own food or buying from the farmer down the road, we became disassociated with how produce was grown and livestock was raised. And now, our food has become contaminated, and we are left to wonder how a cherry became so dangerous.
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