This has nothing to do with flowers.
I’m away from home right now, renting a house for the week in sunny Southern California. That’s a photo I took of the digs in the backyard of the house next to the one I’m renting. Not too shabby, right?
Since I’m on the move, I have been buying way more prepared and semi-prepared food than I normally do. It appears that we are being lied to, quite regularly. I say: enough.
1. It tastes so good, you can’t even tell it’s gluten-free!
If they’re saying that, they just don’t get it. Gluten-free food is not airplane food. It’s not “bad” as a rule. It doesn’t have to be so different from its normal self just to be “good.” That’s an excuse for gluten-free food to be considered extraordinary just because it’s, well, food. Let me say this clearly, so there is no mistake:
THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Step it up, girlfriend, or there are going to be consequences. Keep making bread with huge holes in it. Go on. The minute you have some real competition, we’ll drop you like yesterday’s newspaper.
Speaking of which, if I hear one more time that something is “good—for gluten-free,” somebody’s gonna get it. And it won’t be pretty.
2. It has to be much more expensive.
Unless it’s “certified,” most gluten-free food doesn’t really have to be that much more expensive, unless you’re a teeny tiny shop with zero economies of scale. And if you are a mom and pop shop with no economies of scale, boy oh boy had your product better be good.
3. You have to shop in specialty stores.
There are so many tons of mainstream items these days that are gluten-free that you might never need to set foot in a natural food store again.
You probably will have to mail order a thing or two, like an all-purpose gluten-free flour or component gluten-free flours that are up to snuff, though. Because most of what you can find on the shelf locally, no matter where in the U.S. you live, isn’t going to be well-priced. Buy in bulk, through the mail. Just do it.
4. We make gluten-free food because we care about you.
You don’t. It’s business. And it’s cool. We get it. I expect that you’re going to conduct yourself like a human being when you do business, and treat your customers well and with respect. Just like you would in any successful business. But if you’re offering gluten-free food, there’s a business reason for it. As well there should be. This market is growing by leaps and bounds.
5. We make the very best product we know how to make, no matter what.
Some companies do, and others simply do not. Those who do not make the best product they have to make to hit their sales projections.
I know that there are issues with the ability of bread to be frozen and defrosted, and I know that many if not most things I make in my home would not be shelf stable enough to be packaged and sold. But there is absolutely no reason that most of the gluten-free food (especially the bread!) I make at home should be better than most of the food I eat in restaurants or buy in stores.
It’s really just not that hard any more.
6. We have a website about our gluten-free foods. We’re committed to you!
It’s pretty easy to have a million separate websites these days. For crying out loud, I’m just some noodnik and I have a website or two.
Sadly, I have made the mistake of buying a product made by a mainstream company even though it didn’t have allergen information on it. The ingredient list looked safe, and even though it was a weekend so I couldn’t call the company’s customer service line, I knew the company had a dedicated gluten-free website. I thought for sure I’d call on Monday and be able to speak to someone who would have an answer for me.
First thing Monday morning, I called. It rang and rang. When someone finally answered, they asked me for my mailing address so they could send me $30 worth of coupons. It went like this:
Me: But I don’t want coupons. I would like allergen information about a particular product.
Him: Well, I don’t have allergen information. This isn’t customer service.
Me: But I called the customer service line.
Him: They were too busy. Your call was transferred. Why don’t you want coupons? You don’t like free products?
7. You bought our products before, and now we offer your favorite products, gluten-free. And they taste just the same!
Often, mainstream companies subcontract their gluten-free product lines, so they don’t have to start from scratch when they want to offer gluten-free foods. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to know that, just because it’s under the same label, doesn’t mean it’s the same product you were used to.
8. We have a large gluten-free foods section in our supermarket!
Except it’s next to the dog food (not lying – a very large market local to me pulled that), and many of the products in the section are not necessarily gluten-free. Watch out for Bob’s Red Mill products that are from their non-certified-gluten-free line wedged in with the gluten-free products.
Not cool. *tsk tsk*
9. We have a gluten-free menu!
Stop thinking that a proper gluten-free menu is a regular menu stripped bare of pretty much everything good, and a listing of some of the same meals with an asterisk saying:
*For gluten-free, order without croutons
*For gluten-free, order without a roll
*For gluten-free, order without sauce
*For gluten-free, order burger without a bun and wrapped in lettuce
P.S. For great gluten-free food, especially bread that puts everything else you can buy to shame, try My Cookbook.