EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
Bloomington, Indiana – 11.1.2012: I am either dying of cancer or I have food allergies. My body had stopped working. The doctors didn’t know what to do. They just continued prescribing steroids and antibiotics. It was here that I realized my only choice was to change my food. My life as I had always known it would never be the same. This is what I looked like.
I’d been seeing dermatologists, allergists, gastroenterologists, specialists for everything I could think of trying to find a reason I was experiencing a plethora of miserable symptoms. During that time, I got several food allergy screenings. Using those, I finally started an oral food challenge (the elimination diet). It was during this time that I realized I was #AllergicToEverything®.
I had so many food allergies that I wanted to have them tattooed on my arm. I mentioned this once to an elderly lady who turned to me and said, “Oh honey, just get a card.” So, I did.
Things slowly began to improve. I began to match symptoms to foods and began to develop ways to eat the foods I missed most. I collected and documented the process as I went.
How I Became #AllergicToEverything
For the last six years I have lived and breathed multiple food allergies, a lifestyle no one can plan for. A lifestyle no one should have to live, but if in fact, you do have to live it, you know as well as I do just how hard it is. My guess is that even if you aren’t a food allergy collector, you love someone who is. When I began my journey, there was no go-to one-stop resource for building a life around multiple food allergies, instead, there were blogs and books and recipes for singular food allergies or for singular health issues. Mixing and matching and trials and errors became a way of life. The research was unending.
One day a couple of years ago, my friend Phil came over for dinner and asked about the recipe. Without much thought, I pulled the notebook I had started keeping. I’d been recreating my favorite foods for about three years at that point. He looked at me and said, “Jess, you should publish this.” Two years later, running with that advice, I am finally doing just that.
As a little girl, I spent a great deal of time watching the Food Network, journaling, scrapbooking, and documenting everything. I supported my artistic endeavors by selling handmade greeting cards and confetti on my porch stoop instead while other kids sold lemonade.
#AllergicToEverything® is the natural extension of a life-long string of passion projects; it’s the push-pin I lovingly wrap cotton thread around as I settle into this journey point on this map of my life.
Grandma Donna taught me how to cook for the people I love. She taught me how to set a table; how to make a bed; the beauty of sliced grapes in fruit salad; and, she taught me how to be smart with my money. Grandma Donna passed away on my mother’s birthday, December 3, 2015.
Two years later, on the anniversary of her passing, I filmed the #AllergicToEverything® Kickstarter video (below) using the seed money she left me. I’ve used her generous gift along with every penny I’ve earned and saved on a teacher’s salary to make this cookbook a reality. This book honors my grandmother’s teaching legacy and gives me the opportunity to pay it forward for the ever-expanding and often overlooked community of food allergy collectors who don’t have a cooking resource like this one.
I had a feeling in my gut that drove me to utilize Kickstarter for my book launch! Gut feelings often necessitate taking great chances, overcoming great risks, and with your help, finding great rewards. Because Kickstarter provides a platform for like-minded people to rally behind the causes and efforts that are important to them, Kickstarter gives me the platform I need to bring this book into the world professionally and with all of my love.
It has not been an easy road. And I still get allergic – but I have learned to manage my multiple food allergies, which is why I want to help you now.
Jessica Gray Schipp
High School Teacher, Artist, Writer, Obsessive Documentor & Organizer of Things
Jess is a teacher, writer, artist, and entrepreneur living in Alexandria, VA after relocating back home from her beloved Oakland, CA.
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Jessica Gray Schipp, grew up with seasonal allergies that affected her well-being. She later learned she had multiple food allergies responsible for much of her suffering. After decades of struggling with day-to-day activities, mitigating the unbearable side effects from the medications she was prescribed, and struggling with the nagging fear of never knowing how her body would treat her on any given day – Jess said, “enough” and created #AllergicToEverything®. After several years of testing and incorporating whole-food based ingredients into her life, a cookbook was born.