Friday Food for Thought: Sounding The Alarm On Children and Food Allergies

We like to keep informed on all the latest health and fitness updates, and that includes not just the “hard news” out there – research studies, government policy reports, industry (i.e. Big Pharma, Big Agra, etc.) “developments.” It also means following (and often reveling in) other contrary voices out there who are doing the good work of spreading sensical health consciousness and exposing disturbing health trends and conflicts of interest that should give us all pause. Whether we find ourselves cheering them on, formulating our rebuttals, or scratching our heads in bewilderment, we always relish some good food for thought. We thought you would too.

This week an article from the New York Times caught our eye. It’s about a mother, Robyn O’Brien, and her quest to draw attention to the alarming increase of food allergies in children. Though the general medical community and allergy organizations are keeping their distance, Ms. O’Brien is receiving increasing media attention in connection with her new book, Healthy Child, Healthy World.

An unlikely activist, O’Brien had grown up part of the Texas country club establishment. Much changed, however, the day one of her four children suffered a serious allergic reaction to a simple scrambled egg dinner.

Following that startling twist of fate, she’s positioned herself as a one-woman watchdog, meticulously tracing and taking on the connections and conflicts of interest she unearths among the food industry, government and the medical community:

Her theory – that the food supply is being manipulated with additives, genetic modification, hormones and herbicides, causing increases in allergies, autism and other disorders in children – is not supported by leading researchers or the largest allergy advocacy groups. That only feeds Ms. O’Brien’s conviction that the influence of what she sees as the profit-hungry food industry runs deep. In just a few dizzying steps, she can take you from a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese to Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds to Donald H. Rumsfeld, who once ran the company that created the sweetener aspartame. … She chides top allergy doctors who are connected to Monsanto, the producer of herbicides and genetically modified seeds. She asserts that the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, the nation’s leading food allergy advocacy group, is tainted by the money it receives from food manufacturers and peanut growers.

Depending on your perspective, it’s enough to make your head spin, your heart sink or your dander seriously rise. As you know, we’ve had our own beefs with Big Agra in the past, and we get especially riled up when it comes to the well-being of the small fries. We’ve been critics of what the FDA and industry groups celebrate as progress in agriculture and food science. In short, we read this piece and find ourselves intrigued. Ms. O’Brien’s advice to families will sound familiar to MDA readers:

Ms. O’Brien encourages people to do what she did: throw out as much nonorganic processed food as you can afford to. Avoid anything genetically modified, artificially created or raised with hormones. Don’t eat food with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Once she cleaned out her cupboards, she said, her four children started behaving better. Their health problems, which her doctor attributed to allergies to milk and other foods, cleared up.

via New York Times

So, now we turn it over to you. We appreciate the perspectives and stories you share that shed light on and give a real life picture to MDA topics. What’s your reaction to this Friday Food for Thought?

Dan4th Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Allergic? Pour it On

Dr. Briffa: Food Sensitivity and Children

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