Sometimes I listen to a video web thingy called momversation. It's just moms sitting around and chatting on their webcams, but I find it kinda neat. I started watching it because Mighty Girl and Dooce are both on there, and I read their blogs. Today, for the first time, I watched a video that made me want to comment:
The moms are talking about nut allergies and the "nut free zones" in schools. And, truly, the topic has me quite torn. I've got an allergy to a medication, so I know how much going into anaphylaxis is so not fun. To that end, I think it's great to be careful of kids with nut allergies. At the nature centers/camps where I've worked, we've always been sure to double check the ingredients of everything if we have a known food allergy, and we excluded peanut butter based crafts during those weeks.
On the other hand, I love peanut butter. Wait, I don't think I said that strongly enough: I love peanut butter. PBJ is my all-time favorite sandwich, and I can eat it for days on end. In fact, during the fall semester of my junior year of college, I pretty much just ate PBJs for 2-3 meals a day in order to save money for studying abroad. My passion for peanut butter runs deep. On top of that, I really don't like most other cold sandwich options. Sure, I'll eat a ham sandwich, but I won't enjoy it after two or three days of eating one. Same with any other cold cuts.
Because of my love of PBJ, I really don't know what I would have done during elementary school if I had gone to a nut-free school. Maybe my recall is faulty, but I remembering eating tons of peanut butter as a kid, and I'm pretty sure I brought a lot of it to school with me.
I guess my main hesitation on the topic is why a school is declaring a nut-free zone. If the school is doing this out of general concern for potential food allergies or to because some kids simply can't ingest nuts, why not ban sharing of food and do in-classroom education about nut allergies? You could remind parents to only bring nut-free treats to share, but you wouldn't have to ban nuts from every kids' lunch box. If, however, the school is banning nuts due to the rare occurrence of an airborne nut allergy (they do occur), then I think it is only right and fair to ban all nuts (the alternative might be setting up different lunchrooms, but I think that's more trouble than it is worth, and I'd hate to banish airborne-peanut-allergy-kid to eat lunch alone in a special room every day of the K-12 education).
My main concern is being fair. Of course, being fair to everyone doesn't exactly mean doing whatever each person would like best. But it is key to reduce the infringements on kids' rights just enough so that the rights of the children with allergies are protected.