G, Do People Get Food Allergies from Gardening Enthusiasm? Not Sure But Here's Some Interesting Stuff I Learned...
Before last August, food allergies were just the subject of a class I wanted to teach child care professionals. That information came solely from my experiences working as a kitchen manager in a peanut free preschool. In trying to do it all, something happened late last April and I didn't feel like my normal 'all over the place' self. I felt fatigued for weeks with no explainable cause. I also got a free flu shot (people with egg allergies can get sick from flu shots) after a church service. After munching on a salad (romaine mixed with strawberries and a raspberry vinaigrette) I made for a Metanoia Homeowner's gathering, the severe stomach issues that weekend made me think I had food poisoning.
It wasn't until a couple weeks later that common food allergy symptoms - swollen face, itchy eyes, etc. - started to appear. A visit with a local allergist revealed that pretty much everything I enjoyed was making me sick and strawberries were top on that list. Other foods that were banned included: peanuts, fish, dairy products, bananas and EGGS (our hens hadn't started laying yet, but that news was a bummer). The pic of my swollen face occurred after adding non-dairy creamers to my coffee the previous day. I discovered my sensitivity to latex in Chemistry classes back in the 90's. It was pretty dormant for a while, now simply touching a banana peel was like flipping a latex allergy switch. Not fun. I had to carry Epi-pens around just in my classic symptoms got worse.
Personally, I think burning the candle at both ends did me in. Not only did I have a busy work schedule, but I was trying to maintain the garden at work, two other school gardens and my own garden mostly by myself (we were blessed to have volunteers now and then including my family). Since leaving full time work and using resources to help get things done (Time Bank, Metanoia volunteers, etc.) I've been on medications for almost a year now and I'm 95% better. I was able to start eating a lot the newly named 'trigger foods' with no problem, I still have issues with peanut butter and bananas and I haven't had a strawberry since that salad. But I still grow them 'cause danger's my middle name!
Since my personal experience, I learned that adult onset food allergies are pretty common. I'm one of the lucky ones, but there's a lesson in this experience for all of us - especially those in food service, including food pantries.
My food allergy page comes straight from my food allergy curriculum and some new adult onset information I put together for food pantries to read and share with clients.