Monday, July 23, 2018

Gluten-free and the living is easy....not so fast

Everyone who has to follow a gluten-free diet has someone (or multiple people) in their life that is under the impression that doing so these days is super simple...or at least, it's not that hard.  Why would anyone think such a thing?  To understand, all you need to do is take a look around your basic grocery store and it will become clear.  Companies have slapped gluten-free on pretty much everything they can think of - canned pineapple, salt, cornstarch - you get the drift.

Let's go back a decade (yikes! no one knew what gluten-free meant back then in the USA) and think about how much has changed.  From dressings to marinades to spice packets - it seemed everything contained gluten in the form of wheat.  Nowadays, many such items are not only gluten-free, many are labeled as such.  You can't get too far down the shopping isle without seeing a gluten-free product - or ten.  Even mayo has fallen into the ridiculous items that are marked gluten-free, when the exact product I'm referring to in fact, never ever contained gluten.  I even had a friend remark years ago that since X brand of mayo was now gluten-free, she was going to switch brands.  Yes - that really!

While there are many more gluten-free replacement items available, that doesn't mean we have many delicious choices for any of them.  Have any decent, soft, flavorful, fresh (not frozen) gluten-free bread lately?  Not if you didn't get it from your local gluten-free bakery.  Think that bread you found on the shelf was not previously frozen? More often than not, if you're in the USA, you'd be wrong about that.  The same goes for the cupcakes, brownies or anything else you might find in a "traditional" bakery area of a store.  Just ask the staff and they'll tell you those items come in frozen.  There are a few things you might find that are fresh like fudge made in-store.  But most people are too sensitive to eat fudge made in a bakery with gluten flour flying around.  Even the items in the refrigerated bakery section were sent in frozen. 

People are always telling me about some place that has gluten-free pizza.  They're usually excited to share this news, but not once has the place shared had decent gluten-free pizza.  Who wants to eat pizza that tastes like cardboard?  Same goes for pasta.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate friends (or acquaintances) that are thoughtful enough to tell me about a gluten-free menu they found out about, etc.  It's great that people are kind enough to do it.  And of course, they have no idea that said place possibly has terrible food and/or service regarding gluten-free options.

We decided to grill hot dogs recently and I had to go to THREE stores to find gluten-free hot dog buns.  And, I had to buy a brand that was not my first choice at that.  Starbucks just dropped their gluten-free breakfast sandwich and we were all in tizzy over it.  It wasn't any good to start with so this was understandable.  We were likely upset because we always feel like we're being dissed for having to be gluten-free because...well...we are.   

It's just not true that being gluten-free is as easy as least, not in this country.  And if anyone you know thinks that's the case, you might do well to inform them that they are quite mistaken.  Many companies churn out gluten-free replacement products that are not good (some are literally inedible) on a regular basis, and think we should be happy to have them.  Additionally, we live in a country where food allergies and intolerances are made fun of on a daily basis and it's simply disgusting.  Let's all do our part to set the record straight. 

We can all appreciate how far we've come in the last decade, of course, but we're far behind many other countries on this issue.  And as far as I can tell, history tells us that will continue possibly forever. 




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