Were All Advocates
The other day, I was talking with an activist who is known for her efforts in cleaning up our food supply, as well as for a groundbreaking book. This mother of a food-allergic child is a strong advocate for the special-diet community. As we chatted, she mentioned she hesitates to use the word “advocate” as it often has a negative connotation.
I know what she means: Advocates can make people uncomfortable. They can mess up the status quo. Sometimes, they even get shrill.
What exactly is an advocate? From the Latin vocare, “to call,” (the same root as “vocal” and “voice”), Webster defines an advocate as “one that pleads the cause of another.” An apt description of someone we can all admire.
This issue hits newsstands in May, which is Celiac Awareness Month—an excellent time to redouble our efforts to advocate for those living without. To this end, we publish our Celiac Bill of Rights. We hope it helps move the world—including the FDA and its gluten-free labeling efforts—to a safer, friendlier place for those who must live gluten free.
You’ll find examples of advocacy throughout these pages: Parents managing their child’s health (“A Double Diagnosis,”), a chef helping restaurants be more accommodating (“Inside Look at Eating Out,” ), a doctor/mother devoted to diagnosing and treating those with celiac disease (“All in the Family,”). These advocates are unsung heroes, quietly making small and big changes behind the scenes.
When it comes to advocating for those with allergies and sensitivities, important questions remain. Do 3 million people with celiac disease and untold millions more with gluten sensitivity have the right to clear, accurate product labeling? Do 5.9 million food-allergic school children have the right to access emergency epinephrine? Do 15 million food-allergic Americans have the right to a safe restaurant meal?
Do you or your child have the right to a gluten-free packaged product that’s free of cross contamination?
Clearly, there is work to do. Even if you speak up only in a whisper, finding your voice—and using it—is an important part of what this is all about. The rest is about living well (safe, healthy, happy, informed) on your special diet. And we’re here to help with all that.