Monday, May 11, 2009

Planting Seeds

Ask any gardener in Utah, and you’ll learn that Mother’s Day weekend is the traditional time to plant your garden in this area. Any sooner, and the baby plants will likely freeze. Later, and your growing season will be too short. But Mother’s Day weekend usually heralds the end of the overnight freezes, and the start of those lovely, long, warm days of summer.

So, appropriately, this Mother’s Day weekend found me at the Mother’s Day Garden Fair in West Jordan, planting seeds.

But not those kinds of seeds.

Working at the Utah Food Allergy Network (UFAN) booth, founder Michelle Fogg and I were planting seeds of information. Seeds of reassurance. Seeds of growth, for sure, but not the kind that grow in the soil.

I can only hope I have a green thumb, because at least a couple of hundred people stopped by our booth to ask questions and learn more about food allergies. That’s a lot of seeds we planted.

Frankly, I was amazed at how many people talked to us. Some were adults with allergies; some had children with allergies; some had grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or cousins with food allergies. All wanted more information.

“How do I find out if my daughter is allergic to milk?”

“I just found out I have celiac disease. What can I eat?”

“Where can I find a decent selection of gluten-free foods?”

“How do I bake a birthday cake without eggs?”

When you’re newly diagnosed with food allergies, it can feel like you’re the only one. You can feel isolated, singled out, overwhelmed. But if you’d stood in our booth for a few minutes, you’d have quickly seen just how many people are dealing with this now. We’re definitely not alone. And fortunately, there are a lot more great resources, such as knowledgeable allergists, conscientious food manufacturers, and information-rich websites that are making it easier to live with food allergies now than it was even five years ago.

So while I was a little surprised – and dismayed – by how many people were anxious to talk to us at this garden fair, I was also pleased that I actually had information to help them, whether it was recommending allergists, handing out samples of allergen-friendly food, pointing out websites for recipes and support, signing people up for our UFAN email group, or recommending grocery stores with tasty allergen-friendly products.

And as they walked away, I swear I could see both ideas and confidence sprouting. Sometimes all it takes is a seed.


Michelle said...

It was amazing to talk with so many people and to see UFAN members come out! Great to know we are not alone in this world of food restrictions and related health problems :)

Kaylie said...

I like the new look of your blog--much better suited to its content.