Here’s an ally I’m not entirely sure about: Big Food conspiracy theorist Robyn O’Brien, recently profiled in the New York Times, who is blaming the toxins in factory food (particularly genetically modified corn and soybeans) for a rise in childhood food allergies.
Yet, according to a CNN interview on her website Allergykids.com, she is also working with some "amazing" global food service companies, national grocery store chains, Target, and Wal-Mart, hoping to license her allergy-alert symbol to them. Sleeping with the enemy?
Don’t get me wrong. Severe allergies are terrible. I have a friend whose 14 year-old nephew died of one. He was home without his parents, babysitting his little brother, ate the wrong thing, and couldn’t find his epi pen. Heartbreaking.
And for all I know, O’Brien may well be right about the cause of the rise in childhood allergies–though I am partial to the hygiene theory myself, which says that our lives are simply too clean and that, given too few real germs to react to, our immune systems go a little crazy and over-react to stuff that is not threatening.
(We may both be biased. O’Brien’s kitchen looks entirely too spotless in the photo above. On the other hand, my children, my house, my dog, and I have no problem wearing a healthy coating of soil.)
But I’d prefer it if there were more science on her side. And there appears to be very little.
Besides, there are reasons enough to shun factory food, no questionable science required: It tastes like crap. Life’s too short.
The really interesting thing is that this healthy eating advocate never breathes a word in her Times interview or on the web-site about an easy way to avoid Monsanto entirely: Grow organic vegetables in the backyard. Feed ’em to the kids.