EDITORIAL: Sensitivity for the food-sensitive

York Dispatch

We come from hardy stock in York County.

Many of us descended from generations of farming families in which the men and women worked side-by-side in the sweltering fields of summer.

Children were early taught — often in those fields — the value of hard work. Doctors were for extreme emergencies only.

It's no wonder, though most of us are now working off the farm, that we've maintained lots of those old-time attitudes. In some respects, it's good.

We're tough. We suck it up. We can do it ourselves, thank you.

But we're stubborn as some of the livestock that pulled our ancestors' plows, and ours is often not the most open-minded of cultures.

For all the bravado, we're not the most sensitive people — especially when we think people are choosing to be weaklings.

So hopefully a set of stories about food allergies — in Wednesday's edition — shed some light on a subject in which we could stand to be a little more understanding.

We're no longer a society in which "a pinch of this and pinch of that" and "secret's in the sauce" are suitable answers for ingredients.

We'll leave it to the scientists to explain the why, but it seems more Yorkers are being born with serious allergies — to food, plants, animals, and other allergens.

Born with. As in, they're not choosing to have this condition that could kill them just to annoy or inconvenience you.

They could face severe discomfort and — in extreme cases, death — if restaurant staff, for example, picked the nuts out of their salads instead of making a fresh salad that never contained nuts.

People with allergies probably dislike the thought of swelling and being unable to breathe more than you dislike the thought of spending an extra minute to accommodate them.

But it doesn't sound like Yorkers have been very accommodating.

York County mother Liz Lieu, who has two sons with serious allergies, recalled a pizza shop refusing to let her son to eat chicken from another restaurant while the rest of the family ate food from the pizza shop. The pizza shop had a "no outside food" policy, but the wheat-and-cheese-based foods at the shop would've made her middle-child sick.

The mother said she just wants people to understand: It's not that her children are picky eaters. Their allergies are more complicated than that, and far more dangerous.

Stef Moyar of Spring Garden Township must sanitize playground equipment before her son can play, in the off chance that another child with peanut-butter hands was playing.

"I probably look like a maniac, but we have to clean every surface down," she said. "People give us the weirdest looks. We probably look like germaphobes."

However it looks, she's a conscientious mom going to the necessary lengths to protect her child.

So the next time you are faced with what you think seems like an odd request, try understanding it as a medical necessity rather than assuming it's a high-maintenance ploy for attention.