In high school I ended up missing out on a lot of my AP Bio labs. It seemed like every single lab used food I was allergic to and since the AP manual had been written by the College Board, there was nothing that my bio teacher could do but to ask me to watch the lab instead of participate. I was always bummed when it came to watching my classmates do lab but it never really impacted my learning but in college, in order to pass your lab, you obviously need to do the lab. A few days before the first day of bio lab, my instructor emailed us asking us to come speak with her about any food allergies. I did as I was requested and explained to her my allergies. On the first day of lab, we came in and were each assigned a random "cell sap" in which we were to determine the macromolecules by doing a series of tests. I hesitantly asked my lab instructor what our options could be as I wanted to know how careful I needed to be, although reluctant she told us the sap could contain albumin (egg protein), potato starch, or sucrose. I am allergic to egg and potato so I knew I needed to not only be careful of the sap itself, but anything it could touch such as the test tubes and pippetes. When I got back from lab, I couldn't help but think that while the biggest danger in the lab for most of my classmates were the chemicals, my biggest danger was the cell sap that was supposed to be harmless. Every single lab since has continued to revolve around food proteins and every time I walk out of lab, I feel this sense of relief that I no longer need to be dealing with things that can harm me. That got me thinking, is it worth a grade if you are risking your safety? I am not really sure but it is definitely important to be careful in lab because even if you are not using food products, the group before you may have been. Make sure to wear gloves at all times and if you ever feel unsafe in a lab setting, talk to your instructor to find a way to do the lab in a manner that doesn't put you in harms way!
Lily Roth Is a college student with food allergies and Nancy Popkin is her mother.