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Canary in the Coal Mine

This one isn't so much a recipe...  well..  it's not a recipe at all.  Just something I've been mulling over.

In my late teens/early twenties, I started getting what I called 'jumpy-jumpy legs'.  It was especially acute on the long drive home from a dinner in Melbourne.  I'd try to suppress the urge to stamp my feet in the back seat only to have my legs jerk about even worse.  It was better if I just kept stamping.  My dad was similar... so I thought it was something about me.  It was just something that happened to me from time to time.  It never occurred to me that something outside of me was to blame.  Having lived additive-free for a couple of years now,  suddenly I notice!!  Sometimes when the kids are in bed, Mr Frillypants and I will indulge in a packet of flavoured crisps.  Mmmmmmm.  Flavouuuurrrrr.  And very soon after,  I will be thrusting my feet, kicking them out.  It's the price I pay for MSG and other flavour enhancers.  If this is what can do to my legs,  what else can it affect?  Other muscles?  The heart is a muscle.  Could it affect the heart?  Yikes!

Now that I am aware of additives, I'm also aware of how much we used to consume.  And anyone (except my in laws) will tell you we had a good, healthy diet.  Everything in moderation and vegies in abundance.  But... now I know better.  I watch people eating and think 'Argh! Don't eat that!!!'  I used to think, 'It's just not okay for Ms C because she is sensitive, but the rest of us are fine.'  Now I realise it's quite probably not okay for all of us.

 In low moments I've often wondered why???  Why Ms C?  Why me?  Why us?  I've felt like there was something wrong with Ms C.  I mean,  we're the ones having to make all the changes, right?  No-one else seems to have these problems, right?  But in even lower moments, moments of sad clarity, I'm coming to think of Ms C and all those other children like her, as our Canaries in the Coal Mine.  Warnings to us all.  The canary has stopped singing!  Get out, get out, get out... NOW!!!

Maybe there's nothing wrong with these kids at all.  Maybe it's the rest of us who are wrong...  blindly believing advertisers,  easier options, not questioning the suppliers, convincing ourselves that surely 'they' have our best interests at heart. Ignoring the silence of the canary.  Even blaming the sensitive canary for being unable to live in a toxic environment.

Putting our kids on special diets without challenging the prevalence of food additives is like putting a special protective cover over the canary's cage. We're still standing there in the coal mine...  breathing in the carbon  monoxide and methane.  Look!  We've saved the canary!!  The canary can now survive.  But can we?

For everyone out there who says they are not sensitive to additives,  I would challenge you to live without them.  Not necessarily ALL additives,  just the bad ones.  The ones known to cause problems.  You cannot know you're being affected by them until they are gone from your life.  At very least, read your labels.  Just know what you're eating and what you're feeding the kids.

I'm not sure I've expressed this as well as I might have.  But the term 'Canary in a Coal Mine' just kept going around and around my head last night and I had to give it an airing.


  1. Well said. I know exactly what you mean. I was still breastfeeding Oscar when we did his elimination diet and challenges so I had to do them as well. There was only one group of additives I had a reaction to, but even so, knowing first hand what they do to Oscar I avoid them for myself as well. It is hard at times having him miss out and all the extra cooking, but I also think many parents don't know their kids are sensitive and are struggling with all the side effects. I know what I'd prefer.

  2. I'm amazed at parents who don't want to know about any of this when I discuss it with them, even though their kids are clearly not well. Normal diet=additives therefore it's too hard to cope with failsafe diet and they prefer to remain ignorant.

  3. Yes Niki, we just don't know what we're eating until it's pointed out to us. And I know I used to trust the government to look after us. How naive I was :( Those numbers ARE NOT FOOD. Simple as that. At the same time, I know it has taken me hearing the message many times before I *heard* it.

    Oscar's mum, you just reminded me of the night I ate flavoured chips and my poor baby was up that night kicking and hopping and dancing. Couldn't lie still. "Hmmmm," I said to My Frillypants, "D'you think it's something I ate?"


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