Digital Geek + Food Allergy Geek
by Lee Kantz, SAFE + FAIR's Head of Digital + Acquisition
I first learned about food allergies--particularly gluten allergies and intolerance--during a very challenging time in my personal life. My wife and I were having fertility problems. She had experienced two miscarriages, and with a second surgery for endometriosis, our hopes for starting our own family were sinking fast.
We were starting to explore in vitro fertilization, when my wife saw an alternative MD who recommended that she go off gluten. This was 2004, and the growth of the gluten-free food business had barely begun. (I must admit I had to look up exactly what gluten was.) We found a few specialty stores, and my wife shifted her diet overnight.
On her next trip to the OB-GYN, we learned that her follicle-stimulating hormone levels--a measure of fertility--had completely flip-flopped and turned positive. Part of it could have been her healing after the surgery, but we were also convinced that the diet had helped. I still remember us saying to each other: before we go through the whole IVF ordeal, let's give this one more try on our own.
Our son Jeremy was born the following May, joined by Eva a few years later, and Julia a few years after that. But before Julia was born, we were to have another surprise on the food allergy front.
We were on vacation in the Caribbean, which I was hoping would help me recuperate from a series of nasty sinus infections that weren't going away. Instead, what should have been a delightful trip turned into a horrible time, as I barely slept most nights, even after sitting up in bed. By the time our plane landed back in Chicago, I was so stuffed and hoarse that I could barely talk.
Ear, nose and throat doctors just wanted to put me on more antibiotics, so I decided to pay a trip to the very same alternative MD that my wife had seen years before. She told me to go off gluten and to reduce my sugar intake. I started feeling better within three days, and within a week I was completely cleared up. Years of ongoing sinus issues were behind me, thanks only to a switch in diet. No more regular beer or Chicago deep dish pizza for me, but what I've lost is nothing compared to what I've gained.
Years later, when the opportunity was presented to me to apply my digital skills to a forward-thinking food-allergy company like SAFE + FAIR, it was a no-brainer. Doing well by doing good has always been a personal and professional goal. We've since learned that our son Jeremy is allergic to milk, and so this food-allergy journey has grown even more personal, which is hard to believe.