This morning we sent out our monthly morsels newsletter entitled “Gluten Free You and Me?” Gluten seems to be on many of our minds. Market Melissa is going to tell you more about our take on the GF scene.
Not so long ago gluten free was reserved solely for those with celiac disease. Now gluten free regimes are we being utilized by people with digestive issues, athletes, headache sufferers, those with skin conditions such as eczema, children with ADHD and autism and individuals with extreme fatigue. Six percent of the population suffers from a condition called gluten senstivity, where consumption of gluten can cause unpleasant side effects such as gas and bloating. At Foodtrainers, we don’t see this as another dietary flash in the pan; this is way more than a fad.
The question remains, why do we all of a sudden see a surge in not only celiac disease, but also the incidence of gluten sensitivity? Tthe number of people being diagnosed has increased due to awareness on the part of the doctors and patients but surely there must be something else at play. One viable hypothesis is the idea that our wheat has changed, increasing the amount of gluten, and therefore causing a negative response in some people.
We were surprised to read Michael Pollan’s two cents on gluten in the recent New York Times Magazine annual issue of Food. Normally Pollan is dead on in his analysis of our food system (except when he’s insulting nutritionists); however, we disagree with his gluten conclusions:
“Could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I'm dubious.” What struck a cord with me was that, in the same article, Pollan mentions changes in our production of meat, poultry, milk and even rice. A few paragraphs after gluten he says, “Yes, it's true that people have been eating white rice for centuries. But the rice has changed, and so have we. Millers today do a much more thorough job of "polishing" rice than they once did — that is, whitening it by removing the nutritious bran and germ from the grain. (The same is true of "white flour" as well — it's a whole lot whiter now than it used to be and therefore less nutritious. Nice going!)" We’ll give Michael Pollan a pass, he’s hard at work on a new book and perhaps he hasn’t had the time to research gluten the way he should.
Many share Pollan's skepticism yet issues with gluten are real; when some people avoid it they feel better. This is something those of us who study our food system shouldn’t ignore. In addition to the gluten content of wheat, according to the USDA we are consuming more wheat now than we used to. There’s also some who note that the type of yeast used has changed. Yeast used to be mostly slow rise for bread. This increase rising time allowed more time to ferment. Fermentation produces organisms crucial to gut health. The gluten puzzle isn’t solved but pieces are coming together, stay tuned.
OK, enough ranting. For me, no post is complete without a good product find. There are a lot of duds in the gluten free category but we found a gem. Our friends over at Sheffa, who produce delicious snack mixes, have come out with a bar in four delicious flavors: Rosemary, Sesame, Spicy and Everything. What makes these bars unique is that they aren’t sweet, thus the name Savory. They are gluten free, nut free, soy free and vegan. Turns out you can please everyone. So what’s in it? A mix of brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, chickpeas, sunflower seeds and a touch of olive oil, offering up 7g of fiber and 4g of protein. We promise you’ll fall in love too. You can snag some in our gluten free bundle or be on the lookout for them in stores this month.
So tell us, why do you think there is a rise in celiac and gluten intolerance cases? Do you currently follow a gluten free diet? Any GF products you are currently crushing on?