Mireille Schwartz says she has a different relationship with food than most people.
The founder of the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board has a seafood allergy that she's lived with her entire life. Her daughter is allergic to peanuts.
"There's an intrepid way that people who don't have food allergies just embrace a meal," she said. "We can never relax to that extent. We have a different relationship with food. I would love to sink my teeth into a sardine just to know what it tastes like, but I'll never have the experience. You miss out."
Schwartz wants to give people like her and her daughter reassurance and help them live more comfortably with food allergies.
Since 2007, the BAAAB has provided medication and medical resources to people with severe food allergies throughout the Bay Area. Nobody is turned away. Schwartz and a small group of funders cover the cost if clients can't pay for treatment.
Schwartz is also working with two board members who she said are searching for a cure for food allergies.
"Within my lifetime, there will be a cure or a really good strategic solution to food allergies," Schwartz said.
Until then, Schwartz said she's committed to making life more manageable for her clients.
"I know I've done my job when I don't hear from them again," Schwartz said. "We really provide such excellent strategies that these folks get up and go. They have the tools and they live their lives."
For Schwartz, it's all about providing "can-do" experiences, in which her clients know that what they're eating is safe and delicious.
"It's the joy, the satisfaction, the nourishment, the easy, happy feeling of just munching on something that you love," she said. "It's comforting and gratifying. It's the best."
Being able to have those experiences, and helping others do the same, is part of what makes Schwartz almost glad to have been born with food allergies. They've given her a cause and a purpose.
"The thing about it for me is, if I could flip a switch and not be food allergic, I would not do that," she said. "I'm doing what I need to be doing."
Schwartz would like to see her organization branch out from the Bay Area to the entire country.
"My plan would be to make it a national organization where, in towns and cities all over, there are other people providing this comfort and research," she said. "The more people that can be helping one another the better."
To find out more about the BAAAB, visit its website.
The internet's best stories, and interviews with the people who tell them. Learn more