I've suffered from allergy related issues nearly my entire life. In kindergarten, I ate a black-walnut cookie and almost immediately felt ill (that story here). Additionally, I end up with hives when I ingest certain antibiotics. Given my apparent sensitivities, I count myself lucky that I've never suffered an extreme reaction to an allergen. I'm especially watchful of signs of allergies in my children. This spring I applied some sunblock lotion to my one-year-old son and his face swelled up and turned red. His reaction scared the daylights out of me.
Robyn O'Brien knows exactly how it feels when your child has an allergic reaction. Out of the blue one day her youngest daughter had a severe reaction to scrambled eggs. Frightened about the possibility of more reactions and desperately wanting to find answers to her questions, O'Brien set out to learn as much as possible about food allergies. What she found shocked her:
"As I learned more about food allergies, I came to see our allergic kids as "canaries in the coal mine," warning us of problems that could affect the health of us all, whether we suffer from a specific allergy or not." - The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien
Just recently I received a review copy of O'Brien's book titled, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It. Robyn is passionate crusader in the food allergy world and founded AllergyKids to help raise awareness of food allergies in children. Her book details her research into food allergies and discusses the possible links to food engineering and the introduction of food additives and dyes into the food supply as a cause for an increase in childhood food allergies. Taking care to note several sources, she takes on the corporate world and chides the U.S. government for not doing enough to protect our children from toxins, citing that European countries have much stricter food regulations. And she offers helpful solutions for parents who want to make a change to a healthier, chemical free, more organic diet. The book is written in such a way that the average person can understand the basics of allergies and the science behind genetically altered food.
Like many moms, I do worry about what I feed my children. And like most time-strapped moms, I know how difficult it can be to put a healthy meal on the table. It seems far easier to use the pre-packaged, processed foods so readily available. However, some of the revelations in O'Brien's book certainly make me think twice about what I feed my family. I was very interested to learn about genetically modified foods (particularly soy). The corporate/government/medical world inter-relations also alarmed me. I like her 80/20 rule, where parents should aim for 80% of the diet to be healthy and realize that sometimes junk food (the 20%) is inevitable. I myself believe in variety and moderation. Yes, O'Brien is just a mom, not a medical scientist. But, her main goal is certainly a worthy one: to offer information, to empower consumers, and ultimately she hopes American parents make the shift toward a healthier, more organic diet. This is a worthwhile read for all parents and concerned consumers.
The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It by Robyn O'Brien and Rachel Kranz. Broadway Books (May 2009); 288 pages; ISBN 9780767930710
Source: Review copy provided by Broadway Books
Robyn O'Brien - Author Website
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