We interviewed Joey Storm, creator of jocycle, original author of The Tale of Kale, and the inspiration for No Nuts Please. We found out what it’s like to go to school, parties, and camp with a nut allergy, which allergen-free school lunch her friends all want to try, and what it’s really like to be Lisa Borden’s daughter.
Is having a nut-allergy hard to live with?
Having a nut allergy can be very hard and scary to live with sometimes but at this point it’s just part of who I am. When someone around me is eating nuts or products containing nuts, I find myself becoming jealous sometimes that I can’t “join in” on the conversations about how good it is. I love food and trying new things, and don’t like having to miss out so much. It’s also scary, because I don’t know when someone touches or hugs or kisses me if that might cause me to have to use an epi-pen. Also, I have to be very careful when I’m eating outside of my home, and have to read ingredients on every package multiple times to make sure it’s safe for me to eat, so it’s mostly best for me to bring my own food wherever I go, which means I have to be very organized, and so does my mom.
How do you go to overnight camp or even have a sleepover with your allergies and healthy way of eating?
I go to overnight camp with my allergies feeling confident because for 2 months I am not surrounded people eating nuts, as it is a nut-free camp. Also, because I have many other food sensitivities, my camp allows me to bring a lot of food alternatives so I am well fed. They are so good to me and make summers my favourite time of the year, every year! I only sleepover when I’m invited and my friend and their family are comfortable with me being there, and I also take my own food a lot so they don’t need to be worried, and like to share with them too. I have some really good friends who still include me and go out of their way to make sure I am safe. I am very lucky to have them as friends!
Do people make fun of your food? School lunch?
Yes, sometimes people do but only my close friends, and when they do they do not mean it rudely. I am practically allergic or sensitive to everything they eat, so, all my friends say “I would offer you, but you’re allergic to everything!” 🙂 The kids that really make fun of me, or don’t invite me somewhere because of my allergies aren’t really my friends.
What is your favourite food?
To be honest, I don’t have just one favourite food, I love almost every food. I used to not like avocados, now I love them. I love spicy food and sweet food too. Anything that I can eat, I will try! Depending on what I am in the mood for!
What is in your favourite school lunch?
My favourite school lunch is definitely hummus with tortillas. It is my favourite lunch because it is a lunch that I can pack easily that tastes delicious, and it looks really good too because I layer tons of toppings on my hummus! So instead of my friends making fun of my food, they say “OMG that looks so good!!” (And it definitely is!)
Do you feel that others feed you well?
My friends and some of our family accommodates for my allergies and way of eating when I go to their house. I have one friend whose mom went out of the way to a store and bought me a bunch of snacks and dinner that I could eat happily! I am so happy when that happens, because I know how nice it is and how much work it takes. My family also always helps out, even if I can’t eat every single thing at the meal there is always a few that I can have. My mom always has instant meals and nut-free snacks I can keep in my purse or bag, just in case! I am really thankful for my friends and family when they do care, it’s really hard when someone serves nuts and they know I have the allergies I do. I’m not as nervous as I used to be, but it doesn’t feel good. If it’s by accident, people will apologize and that is so nice too and makes me trust them.
I call you my hero, do you feel like you are our family’s hero?
Some of the time I feel like the family’s hero but other times I don’t. When I see and smell all the chemicals other people use or the processed food others eat, I am happy because I know that since I was allergic to all those things since birth, I made a huge and important change in our family making us make healthy changes, and love that we never have them in our house. But when there is a product that you, Daddy, Ryan or Andy want to try that contains nuts, I always feel bad because they don’t get it, but feel good because we do things as a team. Also, sometimes I find myself becoming jealous of you all because you can just eat nuts or a product that may contain nuts because I really want to try it too. I hope that one day I can lose my nut allergy so I can try all the foods I long to try. I like when you thank me for teaching us so many important things and making us make better choices.
Your brother gets a lot of attention at restaurants because he is a food blogger, does that bother you?
Sometimes maybe a little, but on the inside I am very proud of him. He started a blog when he was eight years old and continued it ever since. And not only am I proud but he is also an inspiration to me. My little brother gets even more attention because he is a ridiculous character with the best smile. I get attention because of my allergies. We all have our thing!
What is it like being a middle child?
I like having an older sibling because he can scout out things for me and make sure they are worthwhile before I do it. Also having a younger sibling is fun because I get to help him out all the time! But as everyone who has a brother knows, they can be very annoying, but I love them so much, and they make me laugh! It’s fun being a middle child.
Is it scary having an allergy at a party?
It really depends on the party. If the party is nut-free, it is not scary at all, but if the party has nuts everywhere, it can get really scary for me. I haven’t been to a lot of parties on my own with a lot of nuts but when I am I have to be very careful with what I eat and touch. As I get older, I will be at more and more though. Even when I’m at a party that is nut safe, it’s so nice that you, or a friend always checks up on me to make sure I am okay. I wish I didn’t have the allergy, that would make it easier and more fun to do everything!
Do you think your mother is crazy?
Yes, I do think you are crazy, but at least crazy for the right things. Without you I don’t know what I would do. You are crazy because you care about everyone so much, there is never a time where you aren’t caring for someone. I love you beyond what words can ever express. (I love you more. CRAZY more!)
You started something called jocycle, why?
I started jocycle for a few reasons. First of all I was a little bit jealous of my brother, who had his blog, so I wanted to do something too. I like business, and what you do, so decided I wanted to start my own business and try it out. Also reusing old stuff can help the environment in many ways, and taking many boxes and keeping them from going in the landfill really helps. But now I have so many boxes in my bedroom because production is really backed up! Haha. (If only you were a client of mine, I would fix that! 🙂 )
If there was one thing that you could tell people about dealing with kids with allergies, what would it be?
It’s probably harder for the person with the allergy than having to accommodate someone with an allergy, so, try and be understanding and not annoyed. It’s easier to get through and be happy when you have someone who cares about you.
Click here to learn more about jocycle.