Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What Uncornies wish Food Manufacturers knew

What we wish the food manufacturers knew is simple.

Food intolerances come in many shapes and sizes. They can be big, scary, blatant reactions that scream "Immediate IgE mediated reaction to this substance". They can be mild, annoying nuisances. They can slowly build to a series of non-life threatening, but disabling symptoms that are delayed and difficult to track down. They can fall anywhere in between. And they aren't always easy to diagnose, even by a doctor.

Doctors aren't G-d. They don't know it all, and they don't have time to research the dietary options of every single patient. Nor do they have the patience to call someone who has a "proprietary formula" in order to determine whether or not that was, indeed, the cause of a latest reaction. Life's short, and it's in the hands of it's owner.

Everything counts. Citric acid doesn't intrinsically lose it's citric-ness when it turns from fruit sugar to Citric Acid. Nor does it lose it's corn origin, or it's beet sugar origin, or any other origin. It wasn't always Citric Acid, and as a food intolerant individual, I may need to know where it originally came from.

Proteins aren't the only component of foods a person can react to, although they may cause the most spectacular reactions. So, just because you use pure fructose syrup in your product does not mean it is safe for me. Just as some people with soy allergies react to soy lecithin, and some people with Celiac disease can not tolerate wheat starch that tests free from gluten; I can't tolerate corn products that shouldn't contain proteins.

Just a little bit can hurt. Packaging materials, vitamin enrichments, stablizing ingredients, and anti-caking agents in ingredients of ingredients can be enough to set my body over the edge.

I don't always have a lot of other choices. Once I've scrutinized every label, and narrowed my options down, there aren't a lot of products left. Every one counts, and if your product appears to meet my needs, I want to know if it's safe. It doesn't seem like too much to ask when I call the number you provide and request information about the ingredients used in your product.

Reactions hurt. And I'm tired of hurting. GI reactions are especially embarrassing and can impact not only my quality of life, but my ability to function in society. After tracking down the cause of pain, or even continuous discomfort, I don't want to take any chances. I need you to be honest and up front about what you are doing to the food supply.

I have to eat. And in this society, it just isn't feasible, or even possible, to grow all my own food. I still need to make a living, I need to care for the kids, I need to have a life. Even if I had enough land to raise animals and harvest enough produce to keep my family fed through the year, I don't have the time or energy to do it all. I don't have the know how to grow specialty products, or access to mills. I have to rely on corporations to provide many of my basic meals...and I deserve a chance to enjoy shortcuts as much as the rest of the United States.

My needs matter. Even if they don't make a significant difference in your personal pocketbook, my dietary needs do matter. Trust me to know my own needs, and how sensitive my body is. Respect my request for information, and offer it freely without judgement because I wouldn't bother calling if it didn't matter for some reason. Let me trust you, so I don't need to call in the first place.

And isn't just me. Variety is important for everyone. Knowledge is important for everyone. And anyone, anywhere, deserves the right to know what exactly is in their food. And they deserve the right to avoid certain ingredients for any reason they choose, whether it's anaphylaxis, gas pains, migraines, religious beliefs or personal choice. Reliance on one crop for too many different purposes is not healthy for our bodies, for our society, or for our economy.

1 comment:

Rose said...

My favorite quote is "Knowledge is important for everyone. And anyone, anywhere, deserves the right to know what exactly is in their food." That is so true. My daughters corn allergy really made me realize how much dangerous smoke and mirrors trust us there is in the food supply!