[Adding: If you don’t want to know the personal stuff, skip the italics.]
For a few weeks I’ve been occasionally thinking about writing a post about food at events and those many of us that have food issues. I kept pushing it back as silly. But, between a quasi-recent FB post about someone having food issues at an event, a less recent FB discussion about children needing allergy identifiers and today’s ALFAM post regarding interpreting butchering, I think I am going to go ahead and write a little something.
Past experiences make me want to make a yearly statement of:
Don’t get pissed off or offended if I don’t eat your food.
I have food issues. I am a long, long term, nearly 30 year vegetarian. This means I do not have the enzymes to digest meat, meat products, meat by-products, meat juices, meat flavorings, etc. I also have trouble digesting most dairy. I food allergies. While my doctor gave me an epi-pen, for my birthday, I have no intention of needing to use it. If you are thinking “Salad”, that won’t work. That results in badness and, in one awful instance, an ER visit. It has something to do with the chemicals used to clean the lettuces.
When it comes to food at events, it is simpler and saver to eat what I bring. If I join you for a meal, you’ll notice I stick to the simplest of dishes, the cut fruit or simple grains. Chances are I am not actually there for the meal, I am there for the companionship.
If it comes at meal times, I am hanging out in my tent or house eating alone, there is a reason. I may be letting my stomach settle or I may be sneaking a modern food source. As kindly meant as it is to send me a plate heaping with food you think I should like, I simply can not eat it.
I suppose this is the point where I have to address the questions, those questions that I heard fairly often as a teen, then not again until recent years regarding being a vegetarian. Let’s see… a) I have officially been a vegetarian since I was 11. That is when my father gave up on trying to get me to eat meat. Choosing not to eat meat is very personal and in many ways spiritual for me. From when I was very young, I felt it was wrong for me to eat meat. Please know this is different from feeling it is wrong for others to eat meat. Like I said, it is very personal. b) I am not a clueless vegetarian. I know where meat, and food in general comes from. My father was a good hunter. He used to hang his game from the swing set, which happened to be outside my bedroom window. I can recall deer, boar and sheep hang there. I was also there when the chickens came to their end. I helped Dad and Mom make sausage from the butchering to the stuffing. This was my parent’s attempt to get me involved with the food in hopes that I would eat it. I’ve milked cows and goats. I’ve collected eggs from chickens, ducks and geese. Related to this, I have a very sharp nose and I can smell when an animal has run or been in fear before it dies. c) No, I have absolutely no interest in eating meat or a meat product. d) I am in constant turmoil over the use of leather and fur products in reproduction garments, being drawn between correctness and my personal ethics. This is to the level of nausea and sleeplessness.
After all that blabbering, what I really want to say is… .
There are a great many people who attend events who have food issues be it allergies, sensitivities, religious/spiritual or health related. These can be a challenge enough in the modern world. But, at a historical reenactment/event there are so many other factors. Children may not know the details of their allergies. Medical ID bracelets may not be as visible. Adults may be trying to get into the “mindset” dulling their personal awareness of food dangers. Weather conditions may effect reactions from foods.
Please be careful about who you give food to. Don’t get upset if someone doesn’t eat the food you offer. If you are cooking for a group, be careful of cross contamination.