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Food Musings: The Bane & Blessing of Food Allergies

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Penny Pinching Epicure: Food Musings: The Bane & Blessing of Food Allergies

Friday, May 14, 2010

Food Musings: The Bane & Blessing of Food Allergies

I eat in a pretty healthy manner. I cook most of my own meals, and even when I eat out or at other people's homes I'm careful what and how much I eat. [I also keep kosher, so I guess by definition I think a lot about what I eat or don't eat, but it's rote by now--I've been doing it most of my life.]

As you probably know if you've read any of my posts before, over the past few years, I've developed a host of food intolerances/allergies (still not sure which they are yet, still working on that part) and in addition to making sure I eat healthily, I also have to make sure I don't eat things that make me sick.

I've gone through fits and spurts of eating organic, cage-free, preservative free, artificial flavors & ingredients free, get the idea. It's not that I don't care about environmental sustainability, or even the fact that organic, cage-free, or local produce is more expensive or not as accessible; honestly, for better or worse, it's just not in my frame of reference. I buy things without thinking how far my bananas have traveled to get to me, or how the field workers who picked my grapes were treated.

Having food allergies has made me infinitely more mindful about what I'm putting in my mouth because of the ill effects certain things can have on me. But it has also made me think a lot more about food sustainability and food ethics in general, and how the choices I make about food impact others. Sure, I'm only one person, and what kind of environmental impact am I really having by buying bananas that have been shipped from Chile? What point does it make if I buy ethically raised meat? But if everyone thinks like that, then everyone is contributing to problems rather than helping to solve them.

At this point in my life (and budget), I can't commit to completely changing the way I shop and eat; I know it wouldn't stick. But I'm taking small steps to buy more local produce, ethically raised meat, and free trade items, and plan to incrementally adapt my habits in the long term.

Food allergies have made my life complicated, but they've also opened my eyes to how the choices I make about food can have a significant impact on more than just myself. Silver lining, I guess?

(This blog post is also posted on the Jew & the Carrot, which has lots of information about food security, food sustainability, and Jewish ethics)

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