It’s been a long time since I’ve written a “Food For Thought” post. My Food For Thought posts come up when I come across a situation that makes me go “hmmmm.” Situations that make me scratch my head or look at things in a different way. I like to share them with you so that you can add your input to my thought process. Sometimes to confirm my thoughts………sometimes to give me yet another way of looking at things. Today’s Food For Thought is a discussion of one side effect of peanut-free classrooms.
What Could Possibly Be Wrong With Peanut-Free Classrooms?
First, some ground rules on this discussion. Allergies can cause serious illness and even death in people. Please, please, please do not read this and feel that I do not understand that simple fact. Your child’s well-being is far more important to me than this misunderstanding that I am discussing today. Got it? I promise that I’m not a mean-spirited person with no idea of what you have to deal with on a daily basis.
Ok, now for the story…………
I was shopping with my elementary school son at Target for some snacks to take with us for a weekend camping trip. As you know, I try to make sure that my family sticks to an 80/20 rule which consists of eating real food at least 80% of the time. This is a story about the 20% of our life. I was walking him around the packaged food aisles doing my best to avoid artificial colors. Sorry, just can’t deal with artificial colors. We turned down the aisle where I spotted peanut butter and other nut butters and encouraged my son to take a look at the peanut butter crackers. I was thinking that peanut butter would at least be a little bit of nutrition for him. My son who lives in a home without allergies looked at me with very sincere (and beautiful) eyes and said, ” I have a peanut-free classroom and peanut butter is bad.” Peanut butter is BAD. Wait! What? We are going camping. We aren’t going to school. We aren’t allergic to peanut butter. He absolutely refused to get the peanut butter crackers because peanut butter is bad.
This is a great example of how we unintentionally teach our children things. It was never the intention of the school or me to teach my son that peanut butter is bad for everyone. In fact, it is a very healthy food for those who do not have peanut allergies. Peanut butter has always been a staple of school lunches. Back in my day if you forgot your lunch or lunch money, you were given a peanut butter sandwich so you didn’t have to go without a lunch. And yet………somehow my son had learned that peanut butter is bad. This poor kid is going to grow up not really knowing what a food allergy is. He is simply learning that peanut butter is bad.
I think an understanding of food allergies is so important. Not everyone is allergic to peanut butter. What about dairy, gluten, cinnamon, and all of the rest? How are we to raise compassionate and caring children when we are only providing part of the story?
What else are we unintentionally teaching our children?? Have you ever had a similar experience? Share your thoughts in the comments. I really want to get the conversation going on this one.