When I was a kid, allergies were what other people had. Well, actually, I am allergic to penicillin, but that didn’t count because that was medicine, not something I liked to eat.

I am married to a woman who has developed a couple food allergies over the years. She’s also allergic to latex and sulfa drugs, but see my first paragraph. My wife is allergic to carrots … and grapes. She has had serious reactions to both, reactions that required trips to the emergency room and hypos of antidote to quell the reaction. The most serious reaction was one after consuming a bit of grape juice unawares, which caused her face, tongue, throat, and ears to swell so that she couldn’t talk or hear and the doctors were very concerned that she wouldn’t be able to breathe and would die unless something drastic was done. Fortunately her fourth hypo did the trick that day!

Nearly everyone we tell about this has never heard of an allergy to carrots, and it is an uncommon allergy, but it is very real for those who have it. Try and find foods that do not contain carrots, especially foods like canned soup and packaged salads, and even boxed foods like “Hamburger Helper”. I think people must get annoyed with us as we stand in the soup aisle of the grocery store, reading the ingredients on the cans to find the ones that don’t contain any carrots. And as far as that goes, the manufacturers really should make sure their ingredients are large and clearly printed, because some of those cans are nearly impossible to read with that tiny print.

My wife has pretty much given up on eating a salad when we go out to eat, too. It’s almost impossible to find any salad that doesn’t have any carrots in it. The waitress says we can pick them out, but they don’t realize how hard it can be to get them all, and how deadly a reaction can be.

I finally have taught my wife to tell people that she is allergic to carrots, because otherwise they would think she just doesn’t like them. When you tell the waitress that you’re allergic, they’re much more understanding of the situation and more willing to try and find a suitable alternative.

Grapes are another problem. All kinds of grapes and grape juice cause the reaction. Wine would probably also be a problem except we don’t drink. But for some reason she doesn’t have a problem with raisins.

The problem comes when people don’t realize that grape juice is often used in fruit juice drinks as a flavoring or sweetening agent. Fortunately it’s supposed to be listed on the ingredients, so if we have that list available we can usually determine whether a drink is dangerous or not. Still, when we see a label that says “artificial and natural flavors” that can bring up a red flag, because “natural” flavoring in a raspberry fruit juice drink could include grape juice, because it’s natural! The government regulators really need to tighten up on their label requirements. For some people it can be a matter of life or death!

Also, we have a problem at church when my wife can’t take the grape juice that is served in communion. fortunately the pastor is aware of it and has become very conscientious about making sure he has an alternative there for her, usually a tiny cup of water. Still, a lot of the people just don’t understand. Why is it that way?

I’ve got my penicillin allergy, and I seem to have developed allergies to such things as ragweed over the years — you know, hay fever. Fortunately I haven’t developed any real food allergies yet, although I am beginning to suspect some reaction to cinnamon and maybe peanuts. But I think allergies are a very serious problem in our society today, and while I don’t think that certain foods need to be banned, I think that those who make and serve the food need to be very aware of their ingredients, and people with the allergies need to be sure to let their allergies be known. It may only cause a little embarrassment. But it could save someone’s life!