Earlier this week, I went to one of the Dodger’s games versus the Giants. I was super pumped because it was one of Vin Scully’s last nights announcing and to be honest, who doesn’t love a Dodger dog. Almost immediately after arriving at the stadium, the hype from the game and the hotdogs wore off. I quickly realized I was quite literally in a peanut infested pit and no amount of wine could have stopped the incessant worrying that followed suit. Eventually, this worry turned into frustration and I found myself trying to rectify the nostalgia that comes with eating peanuts (something I totally don’t and never will understand) at a ball game versus the safety of those with life threatening allergies. Somewhere around the 5th inning I started to wonder should peanut-free zones be more common place?
The prevalence of peanut allergy in the United States and other Westernized countries has tripled in the past 15 years, now affecting more than 1% of the population. What’s even more shocking is that an estimated 3 million people within the United States are allergic to peanut, tree nuts or both. Not only are millions of people affected by peanut allergies but it also costs those 3 million individuals roughly $24.8 billion annually. These statistics are no joke and we need to do more as a society to protect those who suffer from serious food-borne allergic reactions. The concept of peanut free zones is hardly new or uncommon. In fact, it got its start in elementary and middle schools where children are extremely vulnerable to various food borne allergens such as peanuts, wheat and dairy. One big move that is sweeping the country is “nut free” elementary schools. At my former elementary school, they have banned parents from packing any kinds of nuts or nut butters in their child’s lunches and many schools require the bus drivers or health offices to carry Benadryl and EpiPens. Consistently there have been stories in the news hailing bus drivers and teachers who have been able to act quickly and save a child’s life with an EpiPen. While training school staff is a good step in the right direction, we need to take more precautions. Many think that this idea to create “peanut-free” environments and that maybe this should become the new norm. What’s extremely interesting is that schools aren’t the only places that are creating peanut free spaces. Delta Airlines also happens to be one of the pioneers of this peanut free movement. Any time anyone with a peanut allergy flies with Delta, all they need to do is alert a flight attendant when boarding the plane and the crew WILL NOT serve peanuts for the duration of that flight. For me, this is extremely comforting and often times I choose flying with Delta over other airlines because of this convenience. In my opinion, this is something that all airlines should do.
Now you may be thinking, “well, just because someone has an allergy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get to eat peanuts” and my response to you is have your bag of nuts when you get off your flight or when you get outside of Dodger Stadium. The potential risk of sending someone into an anaphylactic shock really isn’t worth it. While entire stadiums don’t need to be “peanut free”, it would be comforting to know that there’s at least a section that’s rid of all those legumes for those of us who have severe allergies.