i did a google news search this morning for "gluten" just to see what's new in the world of celiac and xanthan gum. to my (not) surprise, about 90% of the gluten-related news articles posted in the past 24 hours were from canada, the UK, germany... almost none were from the US. i've always known we were behind the times -- especially since not one single doctor in this great country of ours could figure out what the heck was wrong with me, and it took a stroke and luck and a move to england before i met people that knew what was up. and weren't even phased by it. so very unlike america at the time, and that time was only about 10 years ago. let's get on the ball, people...
anyway, i came across an article that got me thinking. it is from food production daily europe, where they discuss "breaking news on food processing and packaging." hmm. this should be interesting. the article talks about the use of soybean and pea proteins to make GF foods that have a texture that is more like good ol' wheaty breads. overall, the article just sounds so technical. like we're playing scientists with our foods and seeing what happens if we mix this and that and then add this chemical here and heat it all up. i know GF foods are becoming popular, since more and more people are being diagnosed and also as part of a health fad for those who don't even require the substitutions. i guess it was only a matter of time before people really got serious about manufacturing the stuff. finding ways to not just take some rice flour and some potato flour and bake, but to somehow chemically alter it.
okay, so i know that pea and soy proteins aren't exactly chemicals, but i can't help but be concerned that we are not far off, especially as GF products are moving towards being mass-produced by major corporations. i don't know if it's just me, but i don't necessarily mind the way GF stuff tastes. like all foods, GF or not, some products are good and some aren't so great. and no, GF cookies from the package may never taste exactly like the wheatfull versions, but it just doesn't bother me. it's not like they taste bad. they're good. so why mess with it? and i like the fact that small, organic, health-conscious, bigger-picture kinds of places are making the foods. that makes me feel good too.
but what about the other side?
mass production makes more products available in more places at prices that are more affordable for all. but i can't imagine the "fad" bit of this GF market explosion to last for that long. people are avoiding gluten by choice in hopes that it will help them lose weight and feel better. while they might feel better, i'm guessing that it will not take long before they discover GF pastas, breads and cookies and suddenly weight loss goals are gone. and so the buzz producers will be on to the next thing spawned from latest and greatest guaranteed to work diet book.
but then where does that leave us? the true-blue sans-gluterinis?
concern comes from these behemoths crushing those fabulous, small-production companies that actually do use all natural, all organic, non-altered ingredients. in the monsters' wakes we might be left with less choice than we had before, and since the big guys often decrease sales #s for the little ones, the latter winds up having to raise prices on their products just keep their doors open and lights on.
but what about awareness?
if the mondo companies do take off and begin mass-producing GF product that is low in cost and widely distributed, this could have a wonderfully educating effect on those that have never stepped foot into a specialty grocery shop. suddenly GF isn't strange. it's everywhere. it's there next to the low-fat, light, sugar-free products. can you imagine gradations of wheat-free? perched on a shelf in that "health food" aisle will be low-wheat, reduced gluten, and no gluten added items. my mind is zooming right now. but the point i'm trying to make is: giving GF life a sudden heir of normalcy might encourage more restaurants, airlines, hospitals, grocery stores to become even more accommodating than ever. it might be nice not feeling like the others, and instead not feeling any separation at all. feeling normal.
but i know that i do not want to be putting into my body anything that has been altered to an extreme. and i don't find all GF pizza crusts and buns to be unpalatable. no, they don't taste like pillsbury crescent rolls, but i don't care. i like them for what they are and i'm okay with it. it works for me, and personally, i'd rather remain the odd gluterini in the bunch and sacrifice the know-how of the masses when it comes to living and cooking GF, if it means that i get to keep the somewhat sacredness of the organic, whole + GF link that seems to have such a strong grip on the current range of products. however, and then again, i know at the same time that i am extremely fortunate to be able to afford those products when i am craving them, and there are many others that just aren't in that position. and this leaves me torn.