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Robyn O'Brien '93

Seeking New Answers

For Robyn McCord O’Brien, of Boulder, Colo., living green has meant rethinking her family’s food choices. On Mother’s Day 2006, the mother of four launched www.AllergyKids.com to spread awareness about the staggering increases in children’s food allergies (and autism, ADHD and asthma) in the United States.

The impetus for her business came when her youngest daughter, Tory, suffered a life-threatening allergic reaction to eggs. Since then, the O’Brien household has mostly phased out processed foods. From citing evidence that synthetic and chemical additives in food may be the culprit for the rise in these conditions to exposing questionable connections between food allergy research and powerful U.S. food corporations, the Web site has become a battleground over American food politics.

“My liberal arts education has given me the ability to creatively and intellectually deconstruct an existing system,” said O’Brien, who majored in Spanish and French. “And then to analytically and creatively rebuild it, engaging new resources, provides not only new answers, but new opportunities.”

The former Fulbright fellow, who is married to Jeff O’Brien ’93, created a universal symbol—a green stop sign with an exclamation point—to identify children with allergies. She has been interviewed by national media outlets, including ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the New York Times, and she is writing a book, The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick—And What We Can Do About It.