I was born and grew up in a small city. 
I suppose it was suburban. It’s probably a stretch to call it urban metropolitan living.
My city was/is located in the middle of what was then a sprawling agricultural area, so even while I myself grew up on pavement and asphalt, it was an island of concrete in a sea of strawberries, cherries, peaches and grapes.
As far as I could tell, everyone of my generation loved peanut butter. We couldn’t get enough of it. Everyone liked eggs. Everyone drank milk and lots of it.
I thought about this as a was reading an article at ScienceDaily.com reporting on a study that found that city kids are more likely to have food allergies than rural children and that population density is a key factor.
Children living in urban centers have a much higher prevalence of food allergies than those living in rural areas, according to a new study, which is the first to map children’s food allergies by geographical location in the United States. In particular, kids in big cities are more than twice as likely to have peanut and shellfish allergies compared to rural communities. 
Here are the key findings of the study:
- In urban centers, 9.8 percent of children have food allergies, compared to 6.2 percent in rural communities, almost a 3.5 percent difference.
- Peanut allergies are twice as prevalent in urban centers as in rural communities, with 2.8 percent of children having the allergy in urban centers compared to 1.3 percent in rural communities. Shellfish allergies are more than double the prevalence in urban versus rural areas; 2.4 percent of children have shellfish allergies in urban centers compared to 0.8 percent in rural communities.
- Food allergies are equally severe regardless of where a child lives, the study found. Nearly 40 percent of food-allergic children in the study had already experienced a severe, life-threatening reaction to food.
- The states with the highest overall prevalence of food allergies are Nevada, Florida, Georgia, Alaska, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
When I was in grade school, I don’t recall any of my friends or indeed anyone I knew suffering or dying from food allergies. Did they all die before making it to kindergarten?
In high school, my dear friend Jo McB (and, for all I know, the entire McB clan) had food allergies but I didn’t know it. It just wasn’t on the radar.
Nowadays, it seems like every other kid is allergic to some food or another.
Not sure if it was an urban legend but I recall hearing a story from one city (let’s say it was New York) where it was discovered that one child on a school bus had a peanut butter sandwich. They halted the bus and practically brought in a hazmat team to dispose of the toxic substance.
Sadly, the study, while showing urban living is a key factor in food allergies, doesn’t yet show us why. Further research is required.
Food allergy is a serious and growing health problem. An estimated 5.9 million children under age 18, or one out of every 13 children, now have a potentially life-threatening food allergy, according to 2011 research by Gupta. A severe allergic reaction that can lead to death includes a drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing and swelling of the throat. A food-allergic reaction sends an American to the emergency room every three minutes, according to a March 2011 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
 About 40,000 at the time. Around 50,000 now
 The study will be published in the July issue of Clinical Pediatrics. The study controlled for household income, race, ethnicity, gender and age. It tracked food allergy prevalence in urban centers, metropolitan cities, urban outskirts, suburban areas, small towns and rural areas.