Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Enemy of the Red King

So the New Year's bells have rung and not much has changed. There are a few things here and there but the biggest thing to hit our home has occurred to the Red King.

For years, 24 of them to be exact, my family has dealt with the Red King's illnesses in stride. He has never been what you would call healthy. Poor little brother has always been plagued by skin irritations, fevers, and stomach problems. He was sick so often, many family members accused him of being a hypochondriac. As 2006 came to a close we found out it wasn't in his head. The Red King has a severe allergy to soy. Now, many people who have heard about this have taken the stance that it should be easy to avoid these products. After all, just don't drink soy milk. Well after these last few weeks, these people can bite me. Soy is in everything! Take a look next time your in the store at the ingredients in your favorite foods. Crackers, breads, ketchup, even peanutbutter contain soy oil. Apparently 20% of the population has this allergy, which in many cases can be as serious as peanut or shellfish allergies. Yet, and here is the part that drives me nuts, NYC and many of the neighboring areas have passed a law to make restaurants stop using oils that contain transfats. So no more transfats in your fast food restaurants or you little romantic cafe. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is that we are acknowledging that there are more healthy ways to prepare our foods. The bad thing is that soy oil is cheap and is the oil of choice for many of these restaurants. What this means for our household is that we can no longer eat out if we wish to eat with the Red King. So what am I telling you? All restaurants are using soy in their food? No, not all restaurants are using soy, some assure us they are using vegetable oil. Read the label - contains soy. Worse yet, is that you can't be sure because even the restaurants aren't sure if their cooking oils, margarine, or breads contain soy. So we are assured it is safe to find out that it is not. One such item that lulled us into a false sense of security was ketchup. The red king has always loved his ketchup. Heck, as a kid, there would be night when all he ate was ketchup sandwiches. We figured ketchup was okay. Never said soy on the bottle so we good, right? Afraid not. At the bottom of the label was a sentence that said "contains natural flavoring". After some research we found out this sentence normally refers to some form of soy. I just never realized the extent of this problem. From talking with others, neither did they. It is not an extremely common allergy so people without it don't know or don't care. The "it doesn't affect me or mine" syndrome. Still 20% of the population is a fairly large group and studies show, that due to our over exposure to soy, that number is on the rise.

Don't worry. The Red King isn't starving. We have gone soy free in our house as much as we can and health food stores are a major help. K even found him a ranch dressing that doesn't contain soy, which is amazing. As for much of what is in a regular supermarket. . .Well there is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and SPAM. Neither contain soy. SPAM?! Who knew?

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