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Kid in a Candy Shop

The majority of kids walk into a candy store and their eyes widen with excitement. The whole world is at their fingertips and they have a difficult task at hand, to find the perfect treat. Out of the hundreds of products lining the shelves, they have to narrow their choice to one.

As a food allergy kid, you walk in with a different mentality. You have a little bit of a nervous feeling trying to contain the excitement since you know you might be walking out empty handed. You’re starting at zero. The goal is to be able to find that one.

It was always tough going into candy stores and watching kids fill the plastic bags from all the open containers. They could pick any combination in the world and try something new every time they went in. I stuck to my five or six safe candies, the list shrinking as more and more companies became aware of cross contamination.

Don’t get me wrong, as a kid I still loved going to pick out candy, it was just a different experience.

I think that experience is what makes me so excited now for allergy friendly food shows or conferences.

This weekend I am attending my first “Nourished Festival” and couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been counting down the minutes, not only because of the food, but because of everything else that goes with it.

Knowing you're in an environment of people who "just get it" alleviates a stress I didn't even know I carried. I won't have to politely explain to vendors why I'm not trying their samples or feel like I need to apologize about any of my allergies.

The target audience is people like me, so asking those food allergy questions isn't a burden or a problem. Good manufacturing practices are hard to come by, and having a room full of some of the best and most aware companies presents a golden opportunity. Not to mention, in person interaction will save my mom and me hours of waiting on the phone for a prepared statement about the company's "may contain" policy.

With my list of allergies I know I won't be able to eat every single thing there, but having a few options and maybe discovering a new safe brand is an experience that doesn't really exist outside of this setting. Don't worry, after this weekend, I'm willing to share some new finds!

I'm heading into this weekend with a candy bag to fill, a big smile, and, as always, two Auvi-Q's.

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