February 28, 2012

The Peanut Problem

Who would have thought such an innocent little legume could cause such problems? Let me just state that this post will be somewhat of a rant. I typically don't like it when people use blogs for ranting, but I think this pertains to real food and food origin and quality, so I'm going to talk about it. You may disagree with me; I'm fine with that.

Earlier today, I received an email from our school district stating that due to the "rising number of food allergies"...peanut butter is no longer welcome. If my child wants to bring peanut butter in his/her lunch, they will sit at a separate table.

I have a problem with this. On SO many levels.

One of them is, does anyone ever ask "WHY" there is a rising number of peanut allergies? Because they don't seem to. Some statistics say they have tripled in the last ten years. I have many theories for why this is, ranging from overexposure (peanuts used as fillers in a multitude of foods) to the possibility of the allergic reaction REALLY being to the pesticides/chemicals used in the peanut growth cycle. There's also underexposure (many pediatricians now recommend avoiding peanuts until age 4) and over-diagnosis of peanut allergies. I have no idea what the cause is. But I'm pretty sure it isn't just a coincidence.

Next problem? We don't eat school food and homemade peanut butter is a staple in my kids' lunches. One of them probably has it in there 3-4 times a week. So that would mean he/she has to sit at a separate table almost everyday, to protect a child who may or may not be in the lunchroom (or school!) at the same time. Typical government policy here...take away the freedoms of the 99.99% to protect the other .01%. Tell me, why don't the allergic kids sit at the peanut-free table?

That said, let me state that I LOVE our school. I mean LOVE it. Our kids have had absolutely fabulous teachers and our principal is phenomenal. We've never had any problems at all. We just don't eat the food. And even then, I'm aware the school has very minimal funds to work with in the lunch program.

I also understand considering the health of all the children, and I certainly have nothing against any child who suffers from a serious peanut allergy or any other allergy. However, I do not believe making the other kids responsible for it is the right solution. Our daughter is severely allergic to certain types of dogs. But I do not make anyone else responsible for her health, or expect that kids with those types of dogs will play elsewhere because they may have dog hair on their clothing. I educate her about her allergy and she knows how to avoid dogs and when she needs treatment. Interesting side note, she also tested positive for a peanut allergy and we were given an epi-pen and told to avoid all peanut products like the plague. However, she does not now, nor has she EVER had a peanut allergy.

My next issue is that suggested alternatives for peanut-free classroom treats included fruit roll-ups, Gogurt and juice boxes. That translates into sugar, sugar and sugar, with added artificial color and flavor. Really? This is better than peanut butter? I beg to differ. I know kids with allergies to corn, soy, shellfish and seafood. Are we going to make everyone work around those too? Because if so, all those listed treats are out - there's soy or corn in most of them.

All of that aside, the root cause of this problem is still a mystery. We should spend less time putting bandaids on the symptoms and get to the real issue. I'm curious what the incidences of allergic reactions are with organic peanut butter...or corn...or soy. Is this just another thing we're bringing on ourselves because we continually fail to consider how our food is grown? Like I said, I don't know. But I do know banning peanuts is not going to fix the problem.

A few hours after the first notice, a second notice from the superintendent was issued: "after receiving feedback from concerned parents, I have decided to hold off the implementation of this decision until after the March board meeting." Apparently, I'm not the only parent who doesn't like this idea. I plan to attend that meeting.

Let's work together to keep our kids safe and healhty in a way that does not infringe upon the freedoms of others.


  1. only a fascist municipality or indoctrination system would require that "your" kids attend the school and then presume to dictate what food items are appropriate therein

  2. I had the same reaction when they issued that notice for our (old) school. But do we really expect anything different from government? That is how they run everything else.

    I do understand that if some kids even smell the peanuts they can react -but I agree, they need to learn sooner or later the whole world won't revolve around and make way for their allergy...starting now.