When life throws you lemons, make lemonade. That is unless you are a multimillion dollar food conglomerate, in which case why are people throwing lemons your way? Can’t you pay for high-quality reusable shipping cartons to minimize the risk of bruising? But I digress.
This weekend ended much like any other weekend. The kids were tucked into bed dreaming dreams of firetrucks and / or monkeys while the hubby (who has now requested I refer to him as Lamont – my apologies to Lamonts) and I enjoyed a few hours of child-free television. Lamont was kind enough to pour me a lemonade. It wasn’t the fresh squeezed, homemade variety, but it would do. Ahh, I thought as I took a sip. Spring had finally arrived. I’d better enjoy the weather now as all too soon neon yellow pollen would fill the air and coat every surface in sight. I took another sip, savoring the sweet and sour taste.
I shifted from my spot on the couch. I couldn’t get comfortable. A weight seemed to press up against my lungs no matter which way I sat. It was almost like being pregnant without the hormones. I took another sip while I sought a position that would relieve the pressure.
No amount of movement seemed to work. My breath became more shallow, my skin more hot to the touch. I turned to Lamont and calmly said, “I can’t seem to breathe.”
“What do you mean you can’t breathe?!” (I have a long history of understating things with regards to my health.)
“Is my face red? My skin is on fire.”
I looked in the mirror. Sure enough, both cheeks were brilliant lobster red. Another red stain spread down the center of my chest.
“I think I might be allergic to something in the lemonade.” (I am also a master at stating the obvious. It really should be on my business cards.)
Up until this point, if you had asked me if I had any allergies I would have said yes, to bee stings (something else I learned from an unfortunate experience), but now I know my body is still able to learn new tricks. Yay!
We read the juice label as I took a Benedryl. Ingredients listed were water, sugar, and lemon juice. All words I could pronounce. All ingredients I enjoy in other forms on a fairly regular basis. Definitely nothing I expected to trigger an allergic response. The product advertised that it was all natural. Was it possible that some bees were accidentally ground up (naturally of course) in the manufacturing process along with the lemons?
The next morning (thank you Benedryl) I fired up the computer to see if anyone else might have written about a similar complaint. I learned my reaction is considered rare (lucky me!), but I also learned a few things about the juice manufacturing process that aren’t exactly advertised. Being the
great moderately acceptable parent that I am, I feel it is important to practice sharing (even if it is a little off my usual topics).
For example, I learned that as part of the preserving process all chemical that give a naturally squeezed juice its flavor are removed leaving behind a tasteless liquid that no one would buy. The manufacturers then put in flavor and scent packets to give the juice back its, umm… err… juiciness depending on the tastes of a specific market. They don’t have to declare the specific make-up of these packets on the labels because they are supposed to be based on derivatives of the base ingredients (It’s a Fruit Loop-hole). A little citrus by-product here, a pitch of
black magic rind there. Voila! Bon Appetit!
These flavor packets can change depending on where the fruit is harvested and when and can be created by third party designers. Therefore not only do I still not know exactly what it was that caused the reaction, I also have no idea whether this was a one-off reaction or if more products could affect me in a similar fashion. Breakfast could become my own version of Russian Roulette! (Don’t ever leave me, coffee…)
You aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover (except for mine because my cover is awesome), but I didn’t realize you weren’t to judge a product by its label too (up until now I thought that was the point of the thing). Maybe one of these days I’ll learn a lesson the easy way. Here’s to truth in advertising!