When restrictions seem to rule your life, it's hard to keep a positive spin on them. You go to a party and find yourself turning down delicious dishes, desserts and drinks. The grocery store is full of off limits food. You have to call and find out if the school's movie night will be serving popcorn before agreeing to bring your child (or finding someone else to chaperone, so you can continue breathing)
Corn puts specific restraints on life; although it is freeing to know that the rashes and gi symptoms that used to parade as normal aren't something you need to accept and live with the rest of your life, it's also difficult to place restrictions on the air you breathe and the food you consume.
However, when I look back over the past few years since discovering I wasn't suffering from increasingly confusing jumbles of letters that added up to 'just stress', I find that I've learned and gained a lot from living with a corn allergy.
Besides the whole "life really is livable" thing, I think one of the biggest gifts has been learning about our food supply. It's disturbing, and I'd love to stuff my head back in the sand somedays. But I've learned a lot about labels and food processing that I otherwise would not have sought out. I've learned about the plight of small, family farms and a little about political power. I've discovered that blind trust in earthly matters is generally misplaced. That's not a bad thing. It motivates me to feed my family better, to actually make that effort to prepare real meals even if they just consist of organic rice and beans.
I've been forced to re-examine the organic issue. I've always thought that organic was better, but I didn't really think about why. Now I know it's much more than a label that I'm concerned about. Learning about how corn infiltrates our food (thus poisoning my poor digestive tract) led me to an understanding of why there are unknown additions to our food, and why it's so important to support local agriculture. I've realized that it isn't just organic that I'm looking to support, but foods grown without pesticides or chemicals. I'm looking for foods that aren't developed in a laboratory. I'm looking for food that is what it looks like, and nothing more.
No compromises. Everyone says fast food is bad. But then they get busy and hit the drive through, munching away on those 'paper bag heart attacks'. I admit, I've fantasized about it myself. But, with a corn allergy, I can't compromise. It's poison to me, why would I give it to my kids if it's not even good for them? Scout night nuggets is not an option, so it's never come up. I cook. Maybe not completely from scratch, maybe not gourmet, but still. It's real food with few preservatives.
What have I gained from a corn allergy? A chance to better define my feelings regarding organics and food quality in general. A better understanding of food politics. A chance to see how little things that seem insignificant or even wise can really throw a wrench in the bigger picture.
I have a corn allergy, and it makes me 'that mom'. A granola mom. The odd ball out. But I refuse to do it because I have to. I'll do it on my terms...I'll define it in ways that make it right for us. Corn free, naturally.