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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Resistance & Reasoning--a terrible mix Days 73-113

It's been a while, but I'm back to share some things I've learned on my year long documented journey as a parent of a child with a life threatening food allergy to milk proteins. 

I truly do not understand why there is resistance to learning about food allergies. If someone were to tell you that your x-y-z could harm them, or their child, why wouldn't you stop? When I was a kid the x-y-z was smoking. Second hand smoke itself was proven to be bad for us so the smoking public resisted changing and defended their right to smoke, while the non-smokers reasonably defended their right to breathe. Inevitably, the well being of all prevailed by limiting smoking opportunities in public areas that could negatively affect others.  The difference is we aren't talking about possibly getting cancer later in life from another's actions, we're talking about going into anaphylactic shock in 5 minutes because of another's action. I completely understand the unaware individual, but to know a behavior is harming another and turn a blind eye, well that's just despicable. Affordability and nutrition have never gone hand in hand. For some reason, in our country, it's much less expensive to eat junk than to eat what we naturally make in our Earth. We need a drastic change in policy and promotion of that policy.


Conversations about food allergies always brush over the fact that most of us have never heard of anyone being deadly allergic to food. As for myself, I had heard of a person who had knew of someone in their school that had a life threatening peanut allergy. Later in life, my sister developed a reaction to strawberries resulting in non-itchy pink marks that fade on their own. I, myself,  have a reaction to mango and get tiny little bumps on my lips that are slightly itchy for a short period of time. I would hardly call either an allergy because I don't think these are immunoglobulin responses. Instead I'd call them chemical reactions, but still worth mentioning. I also know TONS of people that have sensitivities to foods and minerals affecting their GI tract. So at what point did we cross the threshold into dangerous food allergies? It's interesting because research indicates that there was only a mild presence of food allergies reported by the late 1980's with some research linking them to pesticides and other chemical exposures. From the beginning of the 1990's to the end there was a 60% rise noted. There has been a constant rise ever since. Now, 15 million people worldwide have a severe food allergy! Still sound like someone else's problem? 


What changed from the 1980's to the late 1990's? In the mid-1990's, new food proteins were engineered and introduced into our food supply, yet many people are still, to this day, clueless about this. It was done to maximize profitability for the food industry, yet NO human trials were ever conducted to see if these genetically engineered proteins were actually safe for animal- and human consumption. One of the first foods to undergo this change was milk, which incidentally is also the number one food allergen in the US.


In 1994, the dairy industry started using a genetically engineered growth hormone, rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) on cows in order to increase milk production. However, it resulted in higher rates of disease in the treated livestock. To counteract the ill effects, dairies also had to start using more antibiotics, which we now know is one of the driving factors behind the rise in antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans (not the fact that we were all raised on mild antibiotics for the common cold). There are no FDA standards on medicine for animals so, because it's drastically cheaper, we still currently import low-grade antibiotics, full of toxic, cancer causing elements declared unsafe for human consumption. Then we eat them through consumption of beef, milk, and all of the countless other modes of hidden milk in our processed food supplies. The result... a rapid increase in cancers, neuromuscular disorders, food allergies, autism, ADD, and hormonal irregularities affecting our weight and psychological components. All of us are affected by something I just listed----still someone else's problem? 

Here's the crazy part...our society has a well developed prenatal care regimen . As expecting Mom's, we take our prenatal vitamins and plenty of folic acid and call ourselves healthy pregnant women. We are also attuned to the nutritional needs of a breast feeding mom and consume an extra 300 calories to keep our milk supply plentiful. We are conscientious about what we eat. We know not to smoke or drink alcohol because it will pass through our milk and our babies will also consume it. Doctors are careful about prescribing medicine to alleviate our childbirth pain with the same reasoning. All the while we are told to get plenty of calcium by drinking milk and, suddenly, we are eating toxic antibiotics, growth hormones, and cancer causing chemicals! We think we are being careful and vigilant mothers, but we are being poisened and poisoning our unborn babies and newborns.  Ask any Doctor, or Baby Boomer, how to get calcium in your diet and they'll tell you "drink milk! " When you have a child who can't tolerate a drop of milk to touch their skin, you are forced to explore nutrition. Suddenly there it is in black and white what was always there and you never knew. I would never go back to consuming milk, but that's just me. I have learned that plant based protein and calcium is more of a bang-for-your-buck for your health in the short and long term. I'm not a M.D., a spokesperson, or benefitting financially to say so. I am truly sharing honesty with sincerity from my heart. 

"Organic" food has been a major force in the mass food supply for 15 years. It's interesting because by 1998 the food industry knew enough to broaden the very small "hippee, organic" market segment into a mass marketing phenomena that reached the everyday household. It was marketed well-enough that EVERYBODY today would buy organic if it was the same price. The problem is that it's sometimes double the price of its chemically enhanced counterpart, so many people defend non-organic to rationalize their inability to accept and/or afford the truth.  I've observed people have to justify their choosing non-organic purchases with 3 distinctive defensive reasoning methods. #1.) Taking from their past history of eating non-organic (even though things were naturally organic pre-1980's), #2.) comparing stereotypes of people who eat "organic" against stereotypes of the type of people they think they are (high maintenance vs. earthy), or  #3.) inability to justify spending more for the "same" thing  such as thinking organic is a luxury instead of a necessity. These are all understandable but this is NOT a new diet fad. Going organic overnight is unrealistic. Going organic with only milk and meat would be a seamless transition and the health benefits would be DRASTIC. Adjusting to the price difference with organic produce would be more noticeable, but needs to be a next step. If we all went organic it would adjust the supply and demand curve making it more affordable for all! 


I personally think all mammals should consume their own milk: Cow to calf, Cat to kitten, Dog to puppy etc. I understand mothers who have difficulty breast feeding and choose formula (
although I think it's often more of a choice than a low milk supply or latching problem).  In this situation I STILL think cow's milk based formula is the not the answer. I'm not judging, just offering my opinion. Humans are the ONLY mammals to consume, or serve to other animals, another mammal's milk. Furthermore, we continue to consume it past infancy and then throughout our entire lives, whereas other mammals naturally wean and stop their milk as babies. A mothers chemistry is naturally designed to make the exact composition of nutrients our babies need. When they start eating solid food and gaining nutrients elsewhere there is no longer a need for milk (they lose their gag reflex and grow teeth). Humans turn this from a need to a WANT then hide behind words like calcium, protein, and healthy as they claim their "need" for milk. We don't need milk, we want it. We like ice cream, butter and cheese. Fortunately now ice cream and butter have fabulous vegetable based counterparts. Cheese is a hit or miss depending on the brands, but Daiya's new product lines are very good. Do people really care more about wanting milk in their diet than being healthy? Why are people so resistant to hearing the truth and reasoning behind the dairy industry---and to defend it in any way....come on really? I think the chemicals added are causing addictions to these foods just like the chemicals added to cigarettes. To me, cigarettes and milk are the same. When I see someone smoking a cigarette---we avoid and walk in another direction or around them; when I see someone eating pizza or ice cream--we run for the hills!