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Showing posts from May, 2012

Enjoy Supper at SAGE this September!

Supper at SAGE is a benefit dinner for the SAGE garden and the Farm to School program!

When: Saturday, September 15, 2012 from 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm
Where: The SAGE Garden and Bruce Starker Amphitheater at SW 45th Place and Country Club Drive

Celebrate a season in the garden this September! Supper at SAGE is our second annual benefit dinner. The evening begins with appetizers, cider tasting, and tours of the garden. At 5.30 guests are seated in the nearby pavilion to enjoy a fresh, seasonal dinner prepared by chef JC Mersmann of Gathering Together Farm, with wine by Tyee Wine Cellars! There will be live music throughout the evening and guests will have the opportunity to learn about how our programs provide healthy local produce and sustainable education to our community.

Supper at SAGE raises awareness and support for two essential programs of the Edible Corvallis Initiative: the SAGE garden and the Farm to School Program. SAGE offers sustainable agriculture education to the commun…

Getting What We Need

Lately, I've been somewhat removed from The Quest to Get What My Son Needs. But now, with college, The Quest begins anew.

About a week ago, he came home, beaming from ear to ear. He had been awarded a scholarship from a local organization to attend to a prestigious summer program for juniors interested in government. This is a GIANT deal for him. My son is quiet and shy, so the fact that he was able to impress his interviewers enough to be chosen for this says a lot about how badly he wants to do it. But it's a full week away at a college campus, with hundreds of other kids.

It feels like pushing the boulder up the hill again, writing all these emails to start the process. But write them I did: to the camp organizer, the organization that gave him the scholarship, the campus health service, the food service. And now I wait.

As I sit here, fuming that this is taking so long ("If I have to COOK for the whole week I need to get STARTED, you know!"), it has made me realize …

My Food-Allergy Halo Needs Some Tarnish Cleaner

I want credit!

It was a pretty typical weekend for us. My son came home hungry Friday (when does he not?), so I made egg rolls at the same time I was finishing the ladyfingers. Saturday: made the fake tiramisu layers and assembled it. After all that, we get to the party — and someone brought an unsafe cake.

I don't think I'm that bad a party guest. So what if I spent most of the party hovered over the tiramisu, trying to prevent people from double dipping or dropping cake parts into the bowl? After all that work, I wanted to take the leftovers home, dammit! And so what if I made one or two snide comments about people who bring cake without warning? It's not like those people were close relatives!

On Sunday, I went for a walk with a friend. I spent the first 20 minutes talking about the agonies of trying to get things organized for my son's week at a college summer program. Calls about food, emails about food, emails about campus healthcare, options for carrying meds... Af…

Conditioning Our Food-Allergic Children

Thank you to everyone who supported my last blog post. I did not expect my opinion to be popular and was really touched by the support I received. ("Mom! There really ARE people in the world like me!")

However, as always, there were critics. The main criticism seemed to be: "we NEED horror stories in order to keep our children safe."


What we're talking about is conditioning. We all do it as parents from almost the day our children are born:

Say thank you, darling.
Don't wipe your snot on your hand! Use a tissue!
Quit hitting your brother!

(Well, o.k., some of you probably condition slightly differently than I do.)

Food allergy conditioning takes both positive and negative forms:

1. Avoiding food. No casual sampling at grocery stores. No unknown cake at parties. Smile politely and nibble the parsley at buffets. Get only a soda if your friends go to a restaurant. We teach our children to delay …

A Letter to The Mom Whose Son Just Died

Dear grieving mother:

I'm not going to put your name, or your son's name, in my column. But I know there are dozens of support sites, bloggers and magazines that are doing just that today. The sad reality is that allergy deaths sell, and underneath the food allergy support community is a big money-making machine.

But I want to do what I can to apologize for my community. Because I know what you're going to find when you Google your son's name in a month, or a year, or when you've put the freshness of your grief behind you. Maybe you'll run across my column, even without a link to his name.

I'm so sorry that you'll find parents who look like they're blaming you. Oh, they'll couch it in terms like "it's just so sad they didn't get educated by their doctor or the internet." But, underneath, they're going to take apart your choices to let your child eat at a buffet, without an Epi-Pen. I know why they do it. They need to distance …

Food Allergy Public Service Announcements

You may have seen some of the new PSA-type graphics going around the various advocacy groups. This one is from the Arizona Food Allergy Alliance.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on here. I think most people would look at this and ask "there is no cure for eating?" Even if you assume people knows it's about food allergies, I can't figure out who the audience is supposed to be. Sadistic mothers who keep delicious bins of cookies on the kitchen counter that their allergic child cannot eat? Parents who don't supervise their kids during playdates?

Snark aside, though, I've seen a lot of these type of graphics floating around lately. Apparently the popularity of Pinterest has made it important to capture your message with an image and 10 words. the interest of doing my part for Food Allergy Awareness Week, I offer my own public service announcements.


Designed for every friend or relative who…

simple and sweet

I have to say that strawberry syrup with strawberry slices is one of my favorite things right now and with the strawberry season pretty much in the picking it's the perfect time to make your own.
 Plain yogurt with the syrup and digestive biscuit crumbs is a absolute fave right now and a healthier dessert alternative. Substitute the biscuit crumbs for granola and you've got a morning meal or even spoon some over pancakes (which my guy is quite keen on) instead of maple syrup or even both. Believe me that's good too.  I even have plans to use it to make strawberry cheese cake ice-cream very very soon... like possibly even later tonight.

strawberry syrup with slices

2-3 cups strawberries sliced
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract with beans
2 tsp cornstarch

In a sauce pan over medium heat add the sliced strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla and sugar and cook stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes. Add the cornstarch and cook for a further two minu…

In The Food Allergy Night Kitchen

RIP, Maurice Sendak. (And say hello to Dr. Seuss, if you would.)

"I'm allergic to shellfish and cow's milk and tree nuts"
Said Sylvester McDaisy McPeanut
"Just as I thought there was nowhere to eat,
Your lovely café just appeared on this street!"

"Do you think you can bake me a blueberry pie?
Just no nuts or milk, or I'll probably die!"
And he handed the menu to François with a bleat:
"Hurry it up, man, I need something to EAT!"

"What was that all about?" asked the manager, Scott

"Oh, he's making up allergies right on the spot.
We never had 'allergies' when I was little!
I'LL give him allergies - hot off the griddle!"

"No, don't do THAT," said Scott, with a smirk
"He'll probably sue if he's that big a jerk.
Of course, he can't WIN for a wayward ingredient
But let's skip the hassle - just go be obedient"

So François placed the order, but couldn't stop his pout
"No nut…

A Peanut Allergy Cure Has Been Discovered!

And now it's the day after.

What do you do? How will your life change?

I was struck today by the comments on various message boards surrounding Hugh Sampson's statement that food allergy oral tolerance therapies are not ready for prime time. This isn't really surprising — it's something doctors have been saying for some time if you read beyond the sensationalist headlines. Many of the kids in these studies do not achieve true tolerance. They are only able to eat MORE of the allergen. When stressors on the immune system occur (illness, environmental allergies, menses), their desensitization level can change, causing reactions to an amount of the food that was fine just the day before.

However, there's another side to the controversy. If you read the synopsis of the AAAAI discussion about oral tolerance studies, you'll see an important point:
Quality of life in patients on peanut OIT vs. avoidance was remarkably improved - 90% improvement in QOL scores.90% of kids (…

The Food Allergy Anxiety Test

Today's post is a social experiment, FAB style.

After a few months of writing this blog, I discovered a startling fact: there are people in the food allergy community who really don't like my opinion. (Me? Bitchy little me? Shocking!)

Often, my hate mail has a common thread to it: you couldn't possibly have these opinions and really have a child with severe food allergies. The accusation comes out in various ways: talk about how their child is "more" allergic or my child hasn't experienced "real anaphylaxis" or I "don't understand the risk."

(How exactly does one get the "real allergy" badge from the allergy community if four epinephrine-requiring reactions and two clinical trials don't make the grade? I just recently had someone who knows my child's history ask whether my child had taken the uKnow peanut component test. We have not, but my guess is that my opinions would still be suspect, even with the piece of paper i…

We Need Milk Bans in Elementary Schools!

My son is allergic to milk. It's not a gut-only allergy - it's full-out anaphylaxis. His milk reactions have been much worse than any other reaction including peanut: vomiting, wheezing, hives, extreme congestion, that sense of doom...

So, given the severity of his allergy, I think all schools should ban milk to accommodate children like him.

Just take a moment and think about what went through your head. Really consider trying to ban milk from your child's diet (assuming he/she is not allergic, of course). No cheese. Only one or two brands of bread, and they're hard to find. Virtually no baked goods or desserts. Even many deli meats have milk as flavorings or fillers. Casein in canned tuna. Butter in soup bases.

Could you do it? Would you do it?

Over the years, I've posed this theoretical question on various chat boards and, without fail, virtually all other allergic parents rejected outright the idea of banning milk. I'm usually given reasons like the following: