Allergy and food intolerance awareness has been, thankfully, on a rise. While there are still many misconceptions or general confusion, more accommodations for allergies and intolerances are available then ever before. A specific victory for the food challenged community was the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, effective January 1, 2006, requiring among other things that food labels announce if the product contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.
A quieter awareness seems to be rising, however. The food production market, and larger grocery stores, now have an aisle, or aisles, specifically devoted to allergy and intolerance friendly foods. I remember first getting diagnosed. My mother and I would scout out local health food stores to try to find lactose-free products. Our grocery store had a few items, but they were scattered throughout the store and were hard to find. Certainly not what they have now. There is now an aisle devoted to these types of products, whereas only maybe five strictly lactose-free products were previously available. The nearest Trader Joes was about forty-five minutes away, though they are more conscious of food challenges.
Now, I can walk into nearly any large grocery store and at least find several products I use every day. Cooking with lactose-intolerance and allergies has become significantly easier as the food market is catching up to the problem. I cannot wait to see where this awareness takes us next!