Skip to main content


I was at Trader Joe's the other day when I noticed a big commotion going on at one of the registers. It seems a popular product had just been removed from the shelves after it had been found to contain "trace amount of peanuts." Because those with peanut allergies could become "deathly ill." The implication was that there are many such allergy sufferers.

Has it really come to this? Have we become a country of spoiled children, coddling our imagined sensitivities? It seems everyone has some sort of allergy or sensitivity to what for years have been staple foods. Ask your friends. Listen to people order at restaurants. I can't eat gluten. Tree nuts make me sick. Or eggs. Or soy. Or wheat. And yes, peanuts, which head the list of most common food allergies in children, based on self-reports of symptoms. Two percent of kids become ill when ingesting the popular lunch item, according to their parents. 

But as Scientific American recently reported, these ever-more-common allergies are often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed or even mistaken for other conditions. The skin-prick test, which clinicians use to diagnose food allergy, can produce signs of irritation in as many of 60 percent of people who are not actually allergic. Why such a large margin of error. Because scratching your skin with a needle just plain hurts!

What's more, parents often take their kids to the ER with skin rashes they believe are caused by formula or other foods, when in fact these symptoms occur in common childhood ailments and infections that have nothing to do with allergic reactions. Yes, some do become ill when eating high-risk foods. But we are talking a fraction of a percent of the population, hardly the number of shoppers who avoid these products on the shelves.

So stop being so sensitive, America. Eat moderately. Choose unpackaged, unprocessed foods and don't buy into the hype so as to save yourselves unnecessary trips to the doctor. We've been eating most commonly available foods for thousands of years, and will likely do so for many more. If nuclear war, global warming, or autonomous machines don't take us out first. (In other words, there are bigger fish to fry, kids.) And giving kids tiny amounts of a variety of foods when they're young can avoid real allergies as they get older. Just, no wheat. Because my experience is that allergy or no, bread does nobody any favors.


Popular posts from this blog


I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…


I hereby proclaim that June is meditation month. And July and August and some of September too. For me at least. During the hundred days that comprise summer, give or take, I have taken it upon myself to "assume the position" for approximately one hour each day, usually divided into two 30-minute sessions. During this time I sit in front of a candle flame, let my breathing subside, and with it my mental activity, and literally count the seconds.

The reductive tendency that is emblematic of science has penetrated schools of meditation, and there are many, each of which advertises its particular breed as, if not being the best, at least boasting novel or specific benefits not found in other forms of meditation. 

For example, there is mindfulness, which is the monitoring of thoughts. There is concentration or focus, as on an object or the breath. There is transcendental meditation, which uses the inward repetition of a phrase, or mantra, to "allow your active mind to easily …


To be spontaneous or systematic, that's the question. Or SOS, as the Police sing. Within me these two opposing characteristics are ever at war. I suppose we're all born more of the former. What child is not up for a trip to the candy store on a whim? But our educational system drums in the systematic approach to problem solving. You must progress from number 1 to 10 on your test. Each class is 50 minutes long. Etc. And indeed having a schedule and being methodical can lead to greater material success. If you only do what you feel like you may never study math, or organize your closet. But enslaving yourself to a ritual can suck all the fun out of life. To reconcile the two approaches we've evolved the weekend, which is basically a short vacation from the rigid workday, a time to play in an unstructured way. The athlete has his rest days, a time away from play. The family has the trip to the Bahamas. There are semester breaks in school, though having an entire summer off is…