In my quest for concrete, scientific answers regarding some ongoing symptoms, I recently embarked on a pretty intense food testing protocol. There are many food testing options available, and this is what the functional medicine practice I’m working with recommended as “top-of-the-line.”
I won’t bore you with the complete test results, although don’t be surprised if I continue to share the things I’ve learned. However, I do think you’d be interested in one particular part of my results and what I’ve learned because of it.
Turns out my body is making a LOT of antibodies to an antibiotic called streptomycin. In simpler terms, I’m allergic to this drug. When I saw this on the list of severe reactions, I also realized that I’ve NEVER taken this antibiotic for medical treatment.
So how is it that I’d be making antibodies for something that’s never been prescribed for me? Thank goodness for Google and the documents available online! Here’s what I found:
Streptomycin is a commonly used antibiotic for large animals including cattle, sheep, and pigs. It’s used all the time in the process of producing the meat and dairy we buy at the grocery store.
Streptomycin is also used to control disease in vegetable and fruit crops, INCLUDING organic apples and pears. On the upside, the exemption that allowed organic growers to use streptomycin expired in October of 2014. Just be aware that those chemically treated organic apples will probably still be on shelves for most of 2015 as well.
You probably realize by now that I’m not vegetarian, but we’ve been eating with mindfulness (within our budget) for decades. So this was a big blow to my sense of comfort with our choices! And let me tell you, our budget just shifted around so that I can get some relief from this allergic reaction.
I know the changes we’ve made are really the important part of this learning experience for us – and for you! So here’s what we decided to do.
First, I’m going to give organic apples a break. It’s been my go-to fruit for the last few years because it’s inexpensive, easy to find and travels well. I’ll just choose different organic options for the next several months or more.
We are completely switching our beef and poultry buying habits to only antibiotic-free, hormone-free producers. This is NOT easy on our budget, since the costs are about twice what we’ve paid in the past. It really comes down to the “pay me now or pay me later” philosophy. Since the antibiotics are likely playing a part in my health challenges, then continuing to eat food containing them will only make me sicker later. Investing in better quality products now will hopefully lead to better health in the long run for our whole family.
I’m grateful to live in a part of the U.S. (central Pennsylvania) where we can source these products direct from the farm. The web site Local Harvest has been a big help in identifying these folks. Plus, Cris already shops regularly at a local farmer’s market where he’s been able to find a few more sources.
A few Saturdays ago we decided to go straight to a farm store near us. I’m not sure if this would happen everywhere, but after a quick check in to see if we had questions, the family left us on the honor system. We literally picked out our foods, listed them on a steno pad, and left a check in the cash box. And there were two other families right behind us in line. You can’t get much closer to the producers than that!
Taste and texture of these meats is definitely different, especially their leaner and less fatty nature. But it’s not unpleasant at all. And once we decide on the meat we prefer, we’re expecting to buy in quantity to reduce our overall cost per pound.
It’s too soon to tell you whether these changes will make a difference in my health, but I believe they will be positive in the long term. I hope you’ll take the information I’ve shared and consider how it might relate to your own health. I’d love to hear what you find!
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