News Bits and Bites: March 2009 Issue from GoDairyFree.org

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Go Dairy Free March 2009 News Bits and BitesIt is once again time for our news round-up. Bits and bites from the dairy-free world, to include news that also might be of interest to the food allergic, vegans, GFCF dieters, and all around health-oriented people. If you have any relevant news or announcements to share for our round-up, simply contact us.  Now, in no special order …

Camp Westminster Opens its Doors to Gluten-Free Casein-Free Children
Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake in Michigan is offering three GFCF menu opportunities for camp in 2009. June 21-27 will be a week of traditional camp, June 28-July 1 will be mini-camp, and July 1-5 will be family camp.  The specialty foods prepared for camp will be free of gluten, casein, milk, lactose, wheat, oats, rye, barley, peanuts, and derivatives of these foods, If your child has other food sensitivities, contact the camp to discuss accommodations. Food preparation will be handled by people with experience in special needs cooking.  See Living Without for an article about Camp Westminster …

Allergen-Free Box Added to Angel Food Ministries Offerings
Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. Established in 1994, they now serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states.” Their new allergen-free box is “Processed to eliminate the eight top serious allergens: Peanuts, Soybeans, Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacean, Tree Nuts and Gluten (wheat, rye and barley).” The box is available for $25 at any Angel Food Location, and it contains contents that would essentially cost $42 to $78 at your local grocery store. What a deal! Check with your local host site (listed on their website) to find out how to purchase and pick-up.

Does Earth Balance Finally Have Some Competition?
I was recently alerted to a new butter and margarine alternative called Vegan by Nature. According to the company, their buttery spread is all natural, raw, organic, vegan, diabetic-friendly, cold processed, non-GMO, and free from gluten, wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, preservatives, and artificial anything! We look forward to hearing more and tasting some of this wonder food!

Council Passed Lappin Bill for Food Allergic New Yorkers
The new bill will require restaurants and other food service establishments to display a poster that provides important food allergy information to their staff. The idea is to increase awareness among food preparers and handlers. The poster will be available in multiple languages, it will highlight the most common food allergens, and it will provide information about how to avoid cross contamination and what signs to look for to identify an allergic reaction. You can read more about the legislation on Allergic Girl’s website.

Massachusetts Jumps on the Food Allergy Legislation Bandwagon
Ming Tsai, Executive Chef of the famed Blue Ginger and father to a food allergic child, spearheaded efforts to establish food allergy legislation, and his efforts have proven successful. A new law in Massachusetts requires local restaurants to comply with specific food allergy awareness guidelines. Further details are viewable on Ming’s website.

Lundberg Farms Releases Line of New and Improved Brown Rice Pastas
According to Lundberg Family Farms, “Our new process creates a gourmet taste with a consistent, non-gritty, al dente texture your family will love.” Their new dried pastas are gluten-free, casein-free, and vegan, and are available in spaghetti, rotini, elbow, and penne shapes.

Vegalicious Adds Free Weekly e-Newsletter for Vegan Foodies
Vegalicious Weekly has made its debut with nutritious recipe updates and mouthwatering photos from the popular Vegalicious vegan duo. You can sign up for the regular inbox recipe and review deliveries on their website.

Virtual Schools Offer Alternative to Home Schooling
Each year, more and more parents are turning to home schooling, and I see it all too often among the special diet community. Keeping kids “safe” at school can be challenging, and some parents are opting to avoid that risk. However, it seems virtual schools are popping up all around the country as another option. In fact, beginning later this year, all Florida school districts will be legally required to set up virtual schools for kindergartners through eighth-graders. Via virtual schools , students study at home, and can listen and talk to teachers through the internet. Wow, I wish they had that option when I was in school! You can read more on the topic of virtual schools at the Herald Tribune.

Scientists Study Herbal Formula with Potential to Protect Against Anaphylactic Reactions
Studies have shown that an herbal formula, known lovingly and secretively as FAHF-4, may have the ability to offer long-term protection from anaphylaxis by ‘inducing a beneficial shift in allergen-specific immune responses.” The formula is now in clinical trials in the United States. You can read more at The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Lead to More Colds and Flu
Ever wonder why the peak of cold and flu season seems to hit smack dab in the middle of winter, when the days are shortest? It seems that our inability to absorb enough Vitamin D from the sun in cooler months may be directly related to getting colds and the flu, as reported by the U.S. News and World Report. Contrary to popular believe, the cow’s milk sold  in stores is not a “natural” source of Vitamin D. It too is fortified. So that milk alternative fortified with Vitamin D should serve dairy-free consumers equally well. Nonetheless, getting enough Vitamin D via diet alone is difficult, so most doctors recommend a wee bit of daily sunshine. 

Speak Up for Special Diet School Lunches
It's time again for Congress to re-evaluate the child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Take action at the American Celiac Disease Alliance to urge lawmakers to also provide school lunch for those children with special diets.

Worry-Free Dinners Now Offered Every Month for Food Allergic Diners
Worry-Free Dinners™ and Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke (Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th St., New York City) are partnering to bring family-friendly, allergy-friendly monthly events beginning March 2009 through the rest of 2009. Visit the Worry-Free Dinners website for more information about the dinners and how to sign up. 

Hooten for the Farm Sanctuary
Josh Hooten, founder of Herbivore Clothing Company and one of VegNews' 25 Most Fascinating Vegetarians, is planning a 600 mile bike ride from his home in Portland, OR to the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA, in an effort to raise funds for the Farm Sanctuary. He has a goal of netting $10,000, and needs your contributions to reach that goal. Visit Josh's blog for training updates and inspiration, and visit the donations page to give. Even $5 will help towards Josh’s and the Farm Sanctuary’s efforts.

2009 FAAN Walk for Food Allergy Registration is Now Open
If you are ready to get “Moving Toward A Cure!” then register for a FAAN walk in your local area. They have a newly redesigned walk website for your ease of use. You say there is no walk in your town? No worries, the folks at FAAN have considered this. Sign up for Alexander's Hometown, USA, the Online Walk. You can join as an individual, as part of a team, or as a virtual walker. All participants must register, for insurance purposes, including small children and infants in strollers.

Hero Nutritionals Launches the First and Only Organic Gummy Vitamin
Hero Nutritionals is launching a new line of organic gummy vitamin for children, Yummi Bears Organics. These fun chewables are touted as allergen-free, gluten-free, gelatin-free, casein-free (wouldn’t that be allergen-free? Nevermind), and GMO-free, and they are made with all natural flavors and colors. Yummi Organic Bears made their debut at Expo West in early March 2009, and should reach store shelves within a few months. You can expect to see 5 organic varieties: Multi-Vitamin & Mineral, Immunity Shield, Brain Boost, Super Vision, and Bone Builder.

Kids with Food Allergies Offer Free Easter Guide for Food Allergies
The clever folks at KFA have put together a free downloadable booklet that contains tips and ideas to help you safely celebrate Easter with food allergic children, including: allergy-safe crafts, Easter basket ideas, Easter egg hunts, Easter egg decorating activities and allergen-free recipes. This booklet was first published in 2008, and has been updated for 2009.

Peapod Brings Special Diet Search Capability to Their Online Grocery Service
Peapod.com, an online grocery shopping and delivery service, has joined the “Healthy Ideas” labeling plan, enabling shoppers to quickly fid foods that will fit their dietary and “free-from” needs.  Peapod offers delivery service to several cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast.

Divvies Wants to Come to a Store Near You
Beyond online purchasing, Divvies "made to share" treats are now available at Whole Foods in New England and Norther California, at Balducci's, and at Disney World. But, if you would like to see them at your local store, or favorite vacation destination, simply download their request form and introduce it to the retail manager.

Sensory Friendly Films Offer New Social Outing for Families of Autism
AMC Entertainment (AMC) and Autism Society of America have teamed up to create "Sensory Friendly Films," for families affected by autism and other disabilities. They released the following information about it: “In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing – in other words, AMC's "Silence is Golden®" policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned. Tickets are only $5 at the AMC Greenwood 14 and the AMC Castleton Square 14, and can be purchased on the day of the event. The movie will be shown at 10 a.m. March 14 at AMC Greenwood 14, 461 S. Greenwood Park Dr., Greenwood, and AMC Castleton Square 14, 6020 E. 82nd St., Indianapolis.”

Upcoming Food Allergy Conferences:

Alberta Allergy Conference 
 April 4, 2009
Edmonton, Alberta

Thrive Allergy & Gluten-Free Food Expo
April 18-19, 2009
Chicago, IL

Food Allergy Conference and Exposition 
April 4th, 2009
Minneapolis Radisson Hotel

Eastern Allergy Conference on Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
April 30 – May 3, 2009
The Breakers Palm Beach, Florida

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's (FAAN) 16th annual Food Allergy Conferences
Baltimore, MD – March 28
Rosemont, IL – April 18
Tarrytown, NY – May 9

Special thanks to Avoiding Milk Protein, Food Allergy Buzz, AllergicGirl, Planet Lactose, No Whey Mama, and Navan Foods for helping to keep the free-from community up to date on news!

About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Senior Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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