Sunday, June 29, 2008
Gluten Free Groceries!
For at least ten years, taking a trip to the grocery store has been a sacred experience for me. Long before I ever heard about celiac disease or the dangers of gluten, I worked to heal my body from a different disease through diet and exercise. Walking into the warm and inviting atmosphere of mom and pop grocery stores, as well as larger natural foods chains such as Henry's markets and Whole Foods began to feel cathartic all on its own. I grew to love, love, love my weekly shopping trips. They feel more like pleasure cruises to me.
To be honest, I have trouble going into "regular" stores like California's Vons or Albertsons chains now... they always seem to have the air conditioning running too high, and I don't really like the sterile feeling of the white walls. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like I can even smell the chemicals in all of the processed food they sell as I walk down the aisles.
Meanwhile, when I go to my favorite grocery stores the walls are often paneled with wood, refrigerated sections are kept to a minimum, there is warm lighting and decent indie music mixes playing on the loudspeaker. Depending on where you look there are flowers for sale, homemade candles, earth-friendly cleaning products, amazing bakery sections... mmmmmmmm.... it makes me happy just thinking about it!
I've been so fortunate that the timing of my diagnosis with gluten intolerance jibed with a sudden American interest in gluten free and low carb diets. Everywhere I shop, I can find at least one (and generally a selection of) gluten free brand(s) for the product I need. Friends often ask me, "Isn't your diet difficult? Isn't it hard to find the ingredients you need?"
The answer is simply, no. I find it very easy to locate and purchase everything I need to live a happy gluten free existence that keeps me full three meals (well actually, more like five) a day! That being said, living gluten free is definitely more expensive than eating "normally". I can totally understand how following my diet might be a little rough for people on a very limited weekly grocery budget. I hope that gets better soon...
...and I think that it might! I am thrilled to say that Trader Joe's market - long known for its economical pricing - has really embraced the gluten free diet and offers a wide, wide, wide variety of gluten free foods and ingredients in their stores. You can also check out this comprehensive SIX PAGE listing of gluten free Trader Joes products!
At my local Trader Joes store, they are especially great about labeling foods that do not contain gluten ingredients, like this:
The one caveat to this is that I found a few things such as barbecue sauce and salsa in my local Trader Joe's today that had been labeled "No gluten ingredients used", yet when I read the ingredients on the back of each container they clearly read: "Produced in a facility that also processes wheat", etc. Which would, of course, mean that the products could be contaminated with gluten... so they aren't really gluten free after all. As always, it's important for celiac sufferers and folks with gluten intolerance to be ultra-vigilant about ingredients and processing. I told the store manager about the problem, and it seemed like he understood. We'll see if their labeling changes.
Still, I've got to say I'm thrilled that the Trader Joes brand is taking gluten free so seriously. They've even got a brand new granola on the market:
May you enjoy your trips to your local grocery store or farmer's market as much as I do!