Monday, April 1, 2013

Food Allergies--Nothing to "sneeze" at!

I am SO proud of my daughter--she has been accepted to the University of Florida! I'm now MomofaGator ;) Even though she didn't get into the honors program at UF (only 30% of applicants were accepted--and she can reapply), I am *so* proud of the following essay she submitted. 

We discovered her brother had anaphylactic food allergies when he was 3 and she was 10. Over the years, she not only learned how to use an epipen, she took first aid/CPR classes, learned how to decipher ingredient labels (food, medicine, creams, etc), how to advocate for him at a restaurant if we were not there, and adapt recipes at home for him.

In IB, she has to do a 2 year project--originally she wanted to do one on food allergy awareness and cooking education--how to make safe recipes, adapt recipes, avoid cross-contamination, etc. It was just *too* huge and the liability was too great.

So she forwarded her essay to me--usually she has me (the English major) proof and give feedback. But she submitted this as is. It made both me and her brother cry. For those of you worried about the teen years....for those of you with food allergic children--know that there are good teens and advocates for your kids out there.
Her essay:

The prompt was, if you could start a local business or
charity what would you do and whom would it benefit? describe your startup
process. (300 word limit) 

 I would open a restaurant oriented towards people with
food allergies and I would offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan foods as
well as foods free of common allergens such as milk, gluten, shellfish, and
nuts. This idea is inspired by my brother who has severe food allergies, and
each time we go to a restaurant my parents have to ask a lot of questions and
work hard to make sure my brother doesn’t ingest something that could kill him.

My restaurant would be a place where people with allergies could dine without
such worries, and meet with other people who share the same problem. To start up I’d obviously need a restaurant building, preferably located in a busy area where many people can access it. I’d make sure the cooks hired were trained in cooking allergen-free food and were diligent in avoiding cross-contamination between ingredients. I’d have to carefully select food suppliers conducive to allergen-free food (for example, purchase bread made without milk or eggs, and chocolate that hadn’t been processed in the same facility as nuts). The waiters and cleaning staff would also have to receive similar training to avoid cross-contamination and friendly service. 

I am not sure where I’d get the money for all of this; perhaps I could find a person or persons living in the area willing to invest in my business. In addition, I’d like to offer low-cost cooking classes that teach people how to cook allergen-free, especially children and families that have people with allergies. I would also like to raise money for allergy research through the business and promote public awareness of the cause. ~~"ScienceSlayer" (MS, 2013)

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