Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shedding Some Light on the Nut Allergy Backlash

"Dr." (not) Joel Stein of the L.A. Times wrote a thoroughly ridiculous piece that applauded the equally ridiculous efforts of the nut-loving "Dr."Christakis who also has been all over the news lately, most recently in Time magazine. (Unlike journalist Stein, Christakis is an actual M.D. but not an allergist and a guy clearly ticked because he or his kids were denied peanuts once upon a time).

Oh, boy. You know I hate these stories, but I think it's good to lift the rock and let the slimy things receive some air once in awhile. We need to know what we're dealing with and how to combat the arguments of those wonderful folks who tell us this is all in our heads.

After the anger and disbelief wears off, I actually think these stories are good to get out into the open. For one thing, all the backlash tells me that food allergy advocates are having an effect on policies, whether to serve peanuts on airlines or to have peanut-free tables at school. For another, we're getting our message out there.

You'll also be happy to know that the L.A. Times message board delivered a pretty much 90-% negative response to the essay. The danger of course, is that people won't take nut allergies seriously and that presents a greater risk to our kids.

You can read the stories for yourself, but I would offer the following analogy to folks who feel "inconvenienced" by the fact that a growing number of people have life-threatening nut allergies: Handicapped parking spaces.

Have any of you ever felt "inconvenienced" by an empty one of these when you're faced with a packed parking lot and no spots in sight? Have you ever wondered if the people with the "handicapped" parking symbol hanging from their rearview mirror truly needed it or had gotten it for an injury they no longer have?

If any of us have ever wondered these things, we would not want to admit it and would inwardly tell ourselves (most of us, anyway, not sure about Joel Stein) that this was not a nice way to think.

Society has agreed that offering easy parking for people with physical disabilities (and even for pregnant women--I've seen this one lately, too) is a good thing, even if many times those spots go unused. We want to offer people with disabilities a measure of convenience, right?

The same goes for peanut-free tables and peanut-free airlines. But just think--way back in the day, society believed that people with physical disabilities had them because they were being punished by God or that their parents were. This was in medieval times. That's where Mr. Stein is coming from, in my opinion.

Don't worry--eventually people will accept accomodations for nut-allergic folks. If we keep up our good work, it won't take centuries for this to occur.


Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

Great response to that article. I agree, ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Love the video!!!!