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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Perfect Roommate

Each day I read a variety of articles from the mainstream media on food allergy and anaphylaxis. Today I stumbled across one article that was disappointing.

In an article entitled 'What To Look For In The Perfect Roommate', the author included the following item for a roommate screening checklist, under a section called 'Habits' no less:

Habits: Living with someone who loves rock and roll at midnight might not jive with a devotee of Mozart at noon. Food choices also play a vital role when sharing space. Whether you're a vegetarian or a fan of junk food, seek someone who shares or at least respects your food preferences. Food allergies should also be discussed and ruled out, especially if severe. Peanut butter in the pantry can be fatal for some people.

So apparently food allergy is a bad habit and those with such a trait should be avoided when choosing a roommate? Wow. Forget that this may exclude excellent candidates - it is much more important to keep that jar of peanut butter on the shelf!

Anaphylaxis is not a 'habit' and it is disappointing to see food allergy trivialized in this fashion.

My 22 month old daughter has a great little spirit and I am sure she'll make somebody a wonderful roommate some day! It would be the author's loss to avoid selecting her due only to her peanut allergy.

Furthermore, there is also minimal responsibility for the author in helping to manage a roommate's severe peanut allergy. Learn how to use an EpiPen. No peanuts in the home.

It is irresponsible to advise people to discriminate against the food allergic, especially when the one is without the facts. Though there are people with multiple severe allergies, and that might prove to be a challenge, I would hope that people would select roommates based on their merit and the personality fit, not based on their food allergy.

It takes a village to manage an allergy ... and the food allergic need roommates too!


Anonymous said...

You know - as an adult with PA and someone who has grown up with it through college, through grad school, and always having lived with a roommate due to really is important that the other parties can live in a peanut free household. I think the comments of the author in that article was speaking truthfully. I've always asked roommates to be peanut and tree nut free (I am pa and tna). Why? Imagine that person making a pb&j, thinking they are careful all the way through, then cleaning the pb knife with the dish sponge. Guess what is all over the dish sponge! Same with just tossing the pb knife in the dishwasher...all the dishes come out smelling like pb (I know, that has happened to how you leave something with raw egg on it in the dishwasher without pre-washing...nasty!) What about shared cooking pots? Cake and brownie pans? We all know they don't get cleaned well...all the oily baked on residue...same with cookie sheets! I'd much rather make certain a roommate can live without peanut products in a shared residence, instead of me always worrying about residue everywhere.

As far as your perception on the author's statement...I didn't read it as a 'bad habit' at all. Maybe you are knew to PA and are very sensitive, that completely and totally understandable and I could see how you could read it that way. Having lived with this for over 30 years, I don't read it that way. It's a great question for a potential roommate! Honestly, I wouldn't want a roommate with a severe wheat, milk, or egg allergy b/c I personally can't live without those food items and wouldn't want to live without those food items _for a roommmate_. For a child or a mate that had the allergy, I could do it. For some roommate? Nope. Don't want to be inconvenienced, and that's my right to have that choice. I wouldn't expect, and haven't expected, any roommate I've had to feel inconvenienced. Same as someone else saying they can't live without peanut butter. I'd rather find a roommate who *could* live without a particular food...makes an all around happier household with no resentments or 'snuck in' food.

Just my 2 cents.

NoPeanuts said...

Thanks for your comment. My main point was that is was kind of strange for the author to include recommendations about food allergy under the heading of 'Habits', specifically concerns about bad habits.

As for the ability to live with a food allergic person, if the right roommate was in the mix I am not sure I would exclude the person because they were peanut allergic.

If they had multiple anaphylactic food allergies it would take significant effort to avoid these allergens and I would be more understanding.

But just for peanut? I think that tossing the peanut butter for the right roommate is a small sacrifice to make.