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Jan 11, 2009

Yummy and Safe Food in our Bellies

This weekend and op-ed piece was published by the LA times by a real moron indicating that nut allergies are just a yuppie ploy for attention.  I won't link to his post thereby increasing his readership...but I will say this, I was seething.  Completely enraged, then did a search on Twitter, and found that yes, people actually agree with this jerk. They think its total baloney.   

Is it crazy that all the sudden nut allergies, and actually food allergies in general, are on the rise? YES!  But, is it a figment of my imagination, or have I manufactured an immune system response in both my children, whereby their little bodies fight food protein as if it is a disease? Clearly not.  

While I'd love to get on a plane and punch this moron in the face (ugh, did I go a little too mama lion there or what?) Instead, I'd like to write a very special thank you to two establishments that have gone above and beyond to cater to my two boys.  I'll admit, there are very few places I eat out with the boys, as I'm worried about an accidental ingestion.  But I'm here to thank two places where I've been so pleased with their level of service with regard to food allergies.

We've eaten at Joe's three times in the last six months, twice here in our town, and once in Providence Rhode Island. Each time, the manager came to the table to review the menu with us, and provided some guidance in our selections.  We decided that since the bread was made at an off site bakery, that it wasn't a good choice.  Without access to the baker at the bakery, we couldn't be sure what else is made in the facility, even though the bread itself was nut free.  The cause of concern, for those of you unfamiliar with food allergies, is cross contamination. Was the loaf of bread cooked at the same time as say, almond croissants?  Is there residue on the utensils? On the baking sheets etc.?  For me, the possibility of cross contamination wasn't worth the risk.  

We also ruled out the pita chips for the boys. Although nut free on their own, they are placed as part of the salad bar, and there are nuts on several of the salad items  which could potentially "mingle" among the ingredients.  

The waitress brought some packages of oyster crackers for the boys and of course, some tasty Shirley Temples and got their dinners out quickly.  

My three year old has a coconut allergy as well, so I do not give him fried food in any restaurants.  I figure, what fry-o-lator hasn't had coconut shrimp and or chicken.  Lucky for me, he's happy with pasta, grilled cheese or pizza which usually meets our requirements at most restaurants.

For the last two years, we've strictly avoided ice cream parlors.  The problem is that even if we select ice cream that is nut free, there is always the possibility that the person ahead of you had something with nuts in it, along with a scoop of plain vanilla! Think about the ice cream scoops, its usually one scooper, used across the variety of flavors.

On a recent shopping excursion, we ventured into Ben and Jerry's as a little bribe for good behavior.  I always purchase their vanilla ice cream in the supermarket, so I figured the in store version was likely an acceptable choice.  I spoke with the server, and requested to see the ingredient list for the in store vanilla, just in case.  As expected, hooray, it was clean! The young guy at the counter, grabbed a new scooper and opened a pristine package of vanilla ice cream for my boys.  Thus eliminating any chance of cross contamination either from residue on the scooper itself, or left on the product from a prior scoop!  

You can't even imagine how thrilled my boys were.  Ice cream seems like a simple thing, that is unless you're the one that always has to take a pass on it. We always skip dessert at restaurants and just have something safely at home.  But really, doesn't it just taste that much better when its at the ice cream parlor? mmmmm.

We're going skiing in Vermont next month, and I can't wait to visit Ben and Jerry's Headquarters!!!  

I'm so thrilled whenever we find some place that my boys can feel just like all the other kids, and I can breathe a sigh of relief.  Thank you Joe's and Ben and Jerry's for keeping my boys safe, and for tasty food in our bellies!!  

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