Monday, January 25, 2010

Hive Got a Problem

Natterings by Nat Lauzon - as seen in The Monitor, 2009:
Northwest Airlines recently threw peanuts back into the snack rotation and seriously ticked off a sizeable portion of the population...the peanut-allergic!

Can't say I blame the angry masses. I mean, why mess with a perfectly adequate snack omission already a decade into practice? Peanut allergies are the most widespread and deadly of all food-related allergies. Why would anyone want to mess with that?
I'm a little biased, I'll admit. I'm allergic to eggs. Oddly enough this developed in my 20's, so luckily for my parents they didn't have to monitor my every meal growing up. As a matter of fact, back then I didn't know one kid who was allergic to anything except homework. Nowadays, allergies are everywhere. I've even got a couple of bonus ones: pollen, feathers and (wait for it) bird poo. Honest to god, have you ever met anyone allergic to bird poo? Pretty soon moms and dads are gonna have to roll their kids out the door in giant hamster spheres. That's what it's coming to.

You just can't mess with food allergies though. Having an allergic reaction is scary because there is no way to dictate how far it's going to go. You may get an itchy tongue and be done with it. You may be physically ill - or in my case you break out in hives, your lips and eyes swell up like bloated pierogies and you find yourself in the ER sucking benedryl through an IV. Definitely not the way you'd like to make a first impression.

Since I became allergic, I have become a chronic label reader. Living with a food allergy makes you a difficult dinner guest and an edgy restaurant patron. I've developed a kind of 6th sense. When I order a meal in a restaurant, I can tell right away if the "I have an egg allergy" part is sinking in. You know how sometimes you order a glass of water but you just know you're never going to get it? It's like that. I'll tell the waiter I have an egg allergy, and I can see the information sliding right off their brain like teflon. These are the times when I know my burger is coming with a glob of death-mayonnaise under the bun. Ultimately, I am the last line of defense for whatever food goes down the hatch. I made the choice to go out. But, c'mon, a little help please?

Having said that, I have been to amazing places where my allergy is taken seriously - wait staff who check and double-check with the chef, who sometimes bring labels for me to read, who suggest menu alternatives, who tweak a dish to exclude the food culprit. I know ultimately it's to cover their own butts, but it is beyond words how much I appreciate that extra effort and I tell them so. And of course, they've got a customer for life (the most recent place I've been to who were great about this was Sushi Moushi on Decarie - thank you!!)

Hopefully, Northwest Airlines will get a clue. Peanuts are the single deadliest food allergen there is. So unless they plan on integrating "how to administer an epi-pen" in the safety demonstration, they should really re-think that decision. We live in a different world now. You gotta be more sensitive to the food-sensitive. We're an ever-swelling segment of the population. Pun intended.

1 comment:

Misster Kitty said...

No offense N@, but I’m not food allergic to anything, and yes I’m VERY happy about that… but why should I NOT get my 5 peanuts on the flight because there may or may not be a person with nut allergies?

Peanuts are really the only reason I fly to begin with… because 5 peanuts eaten at 35,000 feet just tastes so much better!