The Growing Gluten Free Market

gf1In the past years, since I have developed a severe wheat allergy, I have struggled with grocery shopping. I was going to numerous stores to complete my grocery list and the cost of my groceries greatly increased. As we all know, eating healthier is always more expensive.

But lately I have been impressed by the growing availability and labeling of gluten-free products. My nearby Krogers (and many other Kroger’s) have remodeled their stores and enlarged their natural food sections. Kroger is also providing their own line of gluten-free foods – most recently their pastas. This is in conjunction with their Simple Truth Line of organic items already being marketed.

Aldi (being international) is very good about labeling their products Gluten Free and has also added new GF baking mixes to their product line. Aldi is growing fast in my area with at least four stores within my reach. They are very reasonably priced, and with limited items and clear labeling, shopping goes much faster for me.

Mueller’s, Ronzoni and Barilla now also offer GF pastas in their products lines. Nature’s Valley Granola Bars now come Gluten Free at a reasonable price. More and more name brands are addressing the gluten-free market. Please jump on board Quaker Oats!!! You have nothing to lose and the market is hot!

This may not seem important to many, but to those of us with food allergies and illnesses it means greater variety, and more importantly…reduced costs. The more mainstream the products and labeling become, the more competition for consumers. Big win for us!

Side Note – Please still read all the labels!  Some will state produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Others may state they are produced in a factory that also produces wheat.  Make sure you are comfortable with the level of protection offered by each product.

I have also found more restaurant chains altering and increasing their menus to add GF meals.  My top safe faves – Chipotle’s, Five Guys (yeah fries!!), and Outback (yeah chocolate cake!!).  These guys cater to the GF crowd and are far from aggravated by your requests and questions.  BUT, wherever you are, always be careful when ordering.  A dish may state it is gluten-free, but preparation may easily cause cross contamination.  Gluten free pasta being boiled in the same water regular pasta was boiled in is ALWAYS a dangerous factor to be addressed. The same goes with items fried in a common fryer instead of one designated for gluten-free use only. Always make sure your server is aware and makes the kitchen aware of your food allergy.  If necessary, call the manager over to make sure the kitchen is informed. It may seem embarrassing to you and a nuisance to the restaurant, but I guarantee it is less of a nuisance than a diner in anaphylactic shock and an ambulance parked in their lot.  As I tell my fellow diners, no food is worth dying for.

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