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9 Lies Companies Tell About Gluten-Free Food

9 Lies Companies Tell About Gluten-Free Food

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.

Pish posh.

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?

Me: *click*

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

Get real.

Love,
Me

P.S. For great gluten-free food, especially bread that puts everything else you can buy to shame, try My Cookbook.

Comments are closed.

  • Sami
    July 27, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    Really interesting posts! As a canadian, where we have had gf legislation for about 25 years now and on Aug 4 th it becomes even stronger with labeling changes to declare gluten in addition to wheat and the other 7 allergens the same as the usa. It also is going to include a couple of new allergens-I think mustard and onions were two. For all allergens including gluten, the common name had to be listed after the ingredient so for modified food starch it has to list the source or for the many names a milk or egg product or its components can be listed as, the allergen must be listed in brackets after each ingredient. So if the ingredient is alblumin (egg) must follow so that the consumer knows there is egg on the product. However the biggest change for Celiacs is for a product to be labeled GF (keep in mind that gf means here under 20ppm and is routinely tested and spot checked) ALL THE INGREDIENTS that the manufacturer uses have to come with a gluten free declaration or certification of their tested status. So food sold in canada is going to be harder to do and for american companies who import into canada they have an additional step to take in having their ingredient suppliers ensure their products are gf. They already have to print different packaging as canada requires french and english information.

    I was diagnosed with CD the old fashioned way 30 years ago-no blood tests just biopsies. I remember when the 20ppm legislation came into effect in canada and I hope very soon in the usa you will have very similar protection. However, it does not mean much unless you have an agency to enforce it, such like we do up here. I have not heard that talked about yet when following the usa discussions over the last decade.

    • July 28, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      We already have laws in the U.S. that require labeling of the 8 most common allergens, which includes wheat, Sami. The push to have the term “gluten-free” defined in the U.S. will hopefully come to fruition (many in the community are working quite hard on that), and when it does the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) will be charged with ensuring compliance.
      Nicole

  • […] Bonus “9 Lies Companies Tell You About GF Foods” rant, by the amazing Nicole of Gluten-F… Like this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  • July 16, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I so agree Nicole! I think “gluten-free” is the new green-washing type marketing technique being employed by the food industry… and to that end everyone is jumping on the bandwagon without true regard for the end user. It still falls on us to check EVERYTHING very carefully.
    I will say that we have Five Guys Burgers and Fries down here and my daughter has been SO happy to be able to have real french fries :) Their staff is trained in allergy prep (they change gloves to handle our food). We do have to eat our burgers without a bun but we enjoy it nonetheless!

    • July 16, 2012 at 11:55 PM

      That’s a really interesting analogy to everything being “green,” Dawn. It does have a similar feel to it. Hopefully, everything will be settled with a federal labeling law, defining “gluten-free” once and for all. Until then ….
      xoxo Nicole

  • Christy
    July 16, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    If anyone is in the Virginia Beach area, Burton’s Grill is an amazing restaurant that actually has its own separate kitchen for people with allergies. They have gluten free buns, and they can even make you up some gluten free calamari! It’s DELICIOUS!!! And if there’s something on the regular menu that you want, they can almost always prepare it in a way that it’s gluten free. They work with ALL allergies, too, which is why we love Burton’s so much. :)

    Also, Cheeseburger in Paradise (at least in our area) has started providing gluten free buns, as well, and they’ve got lots of GF burger options. PS… If you go there, get the strawberry lemonade! :9

  • Jennifer
    July 15, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    #9 is definitely the reason why I don’t eat out at restaurants anymore. Olive Garden tried to feed me the nastiest, uncooked but yet overcooked pasta. And the Melting Pot restaurant which claims to be gluten-free served me three different sauces, all containing gluten. Or when the server replies, “what’s gluten?” or “ok” (and proceeds to move onto the other people at my table), I know I shouldn’t be eating there. Luckily, we have a Mustard Seed Market by our house. Around 95% of their menu is gluten-free and they have a designated cooking area for gluten-free foods. Plus, they have an attached store that only sells preservative free, gluten-free, non-GMO food. It’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it.

    It’s also worth it to hear my boyfriend tell me that the gluten-free food we make together is much better than eating out at restaurants.

    Thanks so much for this website!! Without you, I probably wouldn’t be the chef I am today. And thanks for setting up this community; my parents don’t agree with this diet, but for the first time in 8 years, I feel amazing.

    • July 17, 2012 at 12:01 AM

      I’m so glad that your boyfriend appreciates your gluten-free cooking, Jennifer! I’m sorry that your parents aren’t on board, but you know that you don’t need their permission to treat yourself well. You don’t need anyone’s permission for that! That can take some getting used-to. I was always a pleaser, for so many years. I’m finally (mostly) over that. So glad you’re feeling so well. Cheers to that!
      xoxo Nicole

  • candace
    July 13, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I bring my own food to family events so that my kids and I can eat safely and feel “good” after we leave some place. I don’t really care if other people eat the gf food I bring to events, but I hate, hate, hate when people comment and say, “you eating cardboard again?” “your tastebuds must have changed, because this stuff tastes like sawdust”….

    I don’t know if my taste buds have changed, or if the food truly tastes like cardboard or even sawdust, but my family eats it…it has taken a long time to change patterns of eating from the familiar blue box or wanting to run to dunkin to get donuts on Sunday morning, but we are now in a common place and I am happy for my efforts over the last six years.

    I have learned, that when I bring my own food not to say it is gf (should I be ashamed?), I have also learned that when in a group of kids and I bring out my $7 bag of gf pretzels for my kids to snack on while at the hcokey rink that 99% of the non-gf kids will eat them (eat your own crappy snacks kids) and if I bring my gf spice muffins–no one is complaining…

    I do this for my own health as I used to get sick as a dog after munching on rolls and breadsticks in restaurants (I have never been tested for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity) and for the health of my son with autism. I know I am not up there with the ranks of people with celiac disease who are in dire need of this diet for the sake of their health, but I see how it has changed my son and his focus and behavior (he used to be a zombie) and I no longer get sick because I no longer eat gluten…so cardboard, sawdust whatever, just don’t eat it if you don’t like it…

    as I step off my soapbox. ;)

  • Peggy
    July 13, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    My son & daughter-in-law took both mothers out to dinner before we went to see Little Marmaid with our granddaughter. We ate at The Melting Pot in Sacramento. My d-i-l stressed to them the need for a GF menu. We were all very impressed by the service they provided. They checked & doubled checked to be sure I didn’t get anything with gluten in it. We were very satisfied with our meal & our experience there! My reactions to gluten usually hits within 30 minutes of eating. absolutely no reaction at all! It was good. Can’t say the same for a number of other restaurants in my area! Noodles & Company (headquartered in Boulder, CO) also serves rice noodles & marks your order with an allergy alert so the cooks know & prepare your food accordingly. However, you still need to be careful even when going to a “safe” restaurant.

    I totally agree with all your points! Makes shopping for acceptable gf products a challenge. Thanks, Nicole, for speaking out!

    • July 13, 2012 at 4:20 PM

      Ooh, we’re getting a Noodles & Company. I wasn’t even going to check into that place, just figuring I’d not be able to eat there from the name. Good to know!. Do you just do without the noodles, or do they have GF noodles? or do they use rice noodles always?

    • July 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      Good to know about the melting pot. I am not in sac but I don’t live far and we often eat out there while on shopping trips. Now I know a safe place to eat!

  • daisy
    July 13, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    OK, this is making me feel really fortunate, because I live in a big city (Atlanta) with lots of good GF restaurant options (I eat out a lot, and I am super-sensitive to gluten) and at least six dedicated gluten-free bakeries, all of which are good. I get multi-grain hamburger buns from one, cheese straws and muffins from another, cinnamon raisin bread from the third, etc. My regular grocery stores mark GF items with special tags, and there is a “hippy health food” store that has pretty much every GF item you could think of — i.e. GF panko crumbs, GF frozen potstickers. All this to say, if there’s a market for it, and people vote with their dollars and their feet, it is possible for businesses to do GF and do it right. I agree that halfhearted efforts and misinformation are frustrating–there are still plenty of those out there. And there is no GF bagel that tastes like a “regular” bagel, I have thrown away many a bag in disgust!

  • Nicoly
    July 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Eating out with Celiac is the hardest thing for me. Whenever we travel, I research the area we are traveling to and plan for the restaurants I feel safe at…

    My two most recent glutenings happened like this…
    Went to a hip restaurant that had a gluten free menu, enjoyed my meal and the waitress talked us into a flourless chocolate cake touting that it was gluten free! The cake came and was beautiful with a nice scoop of (what appeared to be) vanilla ice cream on top. We started eating and it was delicious. I ended up with a bite of ice cream only and noticed a chewey, fudgey bit in the ice cream. The texture reminded me of brownie and the alarms in my head went off. I stopped eating but it was too late. I inquired with the waitress about the ice cream ingredients and after researching, she informed me that the ice cream did contain wheat. Doh! She offered to buy our dessert…uh, ya think? In my opinion my whole meal should’ve been comped. I paid physically and mentally for two weeks.

    The second was at a Thai restaurant that I frequent. They made my dish gluten free but proceeded to mix up my plate with my Mom’s plate and the mistake wasn’t discovered until it was too late. STILL paying for this one!!! My favorite thing they say to me? “It only has a little bit in it” (demonstrating a pinch with their fingers) It only takes a crumb to do me in!

  • July 13, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Staff training in restaurants has to be a priority with the owner, the management and the chefs. I am a former general manager of a local family owned restaurant that, as the manager I re-worked the menu items to include gluten free (and vegan) items, trained the kitchen staff and the front of the house staff on WHAT gluten was, what it did, and WHY it had to be “contained”. We still had issues when communication broke down and the line cook would put mac ‘n cheese on the plate instead of the mashed potatoes because that’s what *always* goes there…..I did a LOT of yelling in spanish at those poor amigos! But when it worked, it worked, and soon we had a reputation of the gluten-free friendly place to go.

    Sadly, not all restaurants are putting in the effort or are going to put it in. When I left, it all went down the drain…..

    My favorite eating out story: I ask the server if she can go ask the chef if the Sweet Potato Latkes on the menu contain wheat flour for me…..(thinking maybe there’s potato flour in them…) she comes back and says, “good news, there’s no wheat flour in them, just all purpose flour! so you can have them, right?” That’s the perfect example of lack of training right on up to the chef. I had told her I had a wheat allergy, and THAT was the kitchen’s response. I was flabbergasted. And never returned.

  • July 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    This is such a great post! (per usual, your site has been my bible since going GF several months ago). Luckily, I am not celiac – I only have an intolerance but it’s insane how many people think that I’m only GF because it’s a fad and to lose weight. I’ve spent the last several years (as far as I can remember, really) feeling exhausted, malnourished no matter how many veggies/fruits I consumed and just completely foggy-brained, unable to eat without feeling sick. Within one week of cutting out gluten, I was a totally different person. That’s not a fad or some silly diet to me. It’s a way of life now. I’ve slipped up one time since and I got SO SICK that I’m almost grateful for that slip up because it cemented my commitment to cutting gluten.

    While I think it’s great that so many brands are jumping on the bandwagon, i really see a gap between marketing and education among these brands. I think that if a company is going to market GF they should have to take a course and really understand what it all means before putting it out there.

    Thank you for such an informative post!

    Meghan

  • July 13, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    *Sigh* I’d to think that these issues were not universal, but it seems that they are. Nicole you mentioned gluten foods being right next to the gluten free foods? Well early on in my gluten free journey I picked up gluten Mi-Del Ginger snaps, which were right beside the gluten free variety on the shelf and didn’t realise until I’d eaten some at home. At the time the packets were the same colour, I think they may have changed that now.
    First trip to Five Guys burger restaurant after reading on their website that everything was gluten free but the burger buns.
    Me to server: “Is it correct that everything is gluten free except the buns on your menu?”
    Server: I’m sorry, what?
    Me:” Do you have a gluten free menu?”
    Server: “Gloo….what?”
    Me:”gluten free……? perhaps you could ask you manager?”
    Server goes to discuss this with the manager and returns
    Server” no, we don’t do that”
    Me” It specifically states on your website that everything is gluten free except the bun!! is that correct information or not?!”
    The Manager came over and concurred with my information eventually, but I wasn’t very confident that they knew what in the world they were doing. We have however eaten at Five Guys in various locations in the couple of years since then and in general they do seem to be much more aware of gluten free issues.

    • July 13, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      My local Five Guys here is amazing–when I order without a bun, they always ask, “is that due to an allergy?” And they take precautions. I’ve never had a CC issue. I think it depends on the franchisee.

  • Chris
    July 13, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    ‘Just wanted to say that I read through EVERY comment here this morning…..and am now motivated, more than ever, to approach store managers about the GLARING oversights found in GF sections. You are absolutely correct in that there is simply NO excuse for non-GF items to be right beside SAFE products! NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER!!! If no one is willing to step up and ask for change then change will certainly never occur. I find myself sitting here getting really angry with the restaurants that ‘claim’ to be able to feed the GF community but truly do NOT understand and, therefore, do NOT train (arm?) staff with the FACTS…and then CAN’T feed the GF community! Ugh….. It’s not rocket science….. I feel like printing up a “Gluten is…..and why I don’t eat it” flier and taking one everywhere I go!!! Hmmmmm…….

    • July 13, 2012 at 12:18 PM

      We tend to dine at restaurants with $20 and up entrees in our area (where the normal is about $9) and those places, with linen cloths, etc, tend to take celiac more seriously, their staff knows what’s what, etc.

      I’ve had very bad luck at the local Applebee’s, good luck at one on vacation–it all depends upon the management of the facility.

      I would NEVER waste my money on pasta at Olive Garden. If I’m going there and will end up paying $15 for an GF entree anyway, I’ll get one that is full protein like their salmon and just forget their premade, prepackaged GF options

  • July 13, 2012 at 2:18 AM

    I know it’s been said… but I’m just going to go ahead and say it again… this was hilarious! And so sad that it’s all true. I hate hate hate the comment, “It’s pretty good for gluten free”… it brings out my violent tendencies! Thanks for your blog- I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago and so far EVERYTHING i have tried has turned out wonderfully! And I just got your cookbook in the mail- thank you thank you thank you- the trial and error process in gluten free baking has me pulling my hair out- but your tips and tricks have been awesome!

  • July 12, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Aw, shucks, Naomi. :)
    xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    #8 is something that really really bothers me. I have been in the “gluten free” section of many supermarkets, and 1. they are lacking–they might have some cookies, a cake mix, a bread mix, and some pasta, but nothing really useful for someone who has to eat gluten free every day, every meal. 2. There are lots of products within the so called gluten free section that are NOT gluten free. It’s as if whoever stocked the shelves really didn’t know what to do with that brownie mix, so they just stuck it over on the gluten free shelf.

    I wish I had time to meet with the manager, to point out how much of a disservice they are doing for newly diagnosed gluten free people. I rant.

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      Whenever I see things like that, Karen, I try to point it out to the store manager (and I’ve gone so far as to call corporate HQs, even). I figure that this is my vocation, so I’ll make the time since others simply can’t afford that kind of time. Like you said, what about newly diagnosed people? I shudder to think of people who are new at this not looking critically at something that is in the gluten-free section, buying something with gluten without realizing, and becoming ill. So I speak up whenever I can. And often, it doesn’t change a bit. That’s the worst.
      xoxo Nicole

    • Tracy
      July 16, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      I agree. While I appreciate that they have it in an 8′ sections while no gluten containing products in sight, they could do better. For example there is Pamela’s and Gluten Free Pantry pancake mix in the GF isle, but if you want a different brand it’s all the way over in the gluten full isle of cereal! Right next to the gluten containing pancake mix. The isle it’s self is not in with the dog food or anything it is exactly one isl over from cleaning products, and just up from food storage. It’s more like they asked themselves where the least in the way place they had to stick “that stuff” and went with it. They used to have the Bette Crocker GF mixes in the GF isle, but then for whatever reason moved it over to the regular baking isle…along with the King Arther mixes.And wouldn’tcha know not one box of it, save the KA GF All Purpose Flour is on the top shelf. Think I’ll take their little survey every week and let them know I don’t like hunting for my product and would like it in a dedicated area.

  • Sharen Gustafson
    July 12, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I’m so lucky to have a husband who will bake GF items just for me. Wonderful soft, fluffy huge bread, great tasting pizza and even some cookies from time to time. Anyway, my comment was to say “Wow, you are even a good photographer to go with your blogging skills!” I got your book yesterday and I just get so excited looking at the recipes and even learning a thing or two about GF living. I decided to go GF last September and am SO GLAD I did. I am not a big fan of eating anyway, but the things I do eat are much more enjoyable. I love going to the grocery store and knowing that I won’t fall to the callings of all that junk food anymore! I just wish I could convince everyone else that it is a much better way of life to not eat all that gluteny stuff! THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLOG AND BOOKS AND I LOOK FORWARD TO GROWING WITH YOU IN THIS WONDERFUL JOURNEY!!!

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      Thanks, Sharon, for the kind words. I’ve really fallen in love with photography, unexpectedly. I was just wandering around my rented neighborhood in San Clemente, taking pictures of what Southern Californians no doubt think are just ordinary life but seems beautiful since it’s new to me. And hold on to that husband of yours. He sounds like a keeper!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Tracy
    July 12, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Totally agree with those lies…and a vast majority of people eat those lies up and up. Do have to say that the bread is a true thing. Over the 4th we traveled from MI to IL (nearer to Iowa) to visit with his side of the family. They purchased some gluten free products for me, one item being a loaf of Schars “bread” and Udi’s burger buns. Sad fact, those Udi’s buns would have fooled everyone into thinking they were regular gluten buns, while the Schar’s was more like trying to eat something akin to cardboardy foam. I do surprise a lot of people when I tell them that I mostly shop at discount store Aldi’s for the bulk of my food…grab what I can from the garden, and sometimes have found GF product (mostly Bob’s Red Mill) at Big Lots.

    • Nicoly
      July 12, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      Did you heat up the Schars buns? I cut mine open and grill them until soft and they are fantastic! I can imagine that they would be awful without heating them though.

    • Tracy
      July 16, 2012 at 9:58 AM

      No I didn’t. Didn’t want to risk using their toaster. It was the Schars brand buns, it was their shelf stable bread that could have been a sponge. The Udi’s buns were fine right out of the package. In fact I snacked on one as if it were bread.

    • Tracy
      July 16, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      And messed that up a bit. It wasn’t the Schars brand buns, it was their bread.

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      I’m so surprised you had a bad experience with Schar’s buns, Tracy. I really love their parbaked breads. They’re rather spendy, but they have a really nice long shelf life, and I love to have them around for a last-minute need. Have you tried those? Yeah, those Udi’s buns are a shame. :(
      xoxo Nicole
      Edited to note: Schar is a blog sponsor of mine. But I approached them, because I really love their products and the way they do business.

    • Tracy
      July 16, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      The Udi’s buns were fine, but the Schars bread was spongy and gross. Which surprised me as I’ve used their dinner rolls in the past and loved them. I’d never had the Scahrs bread before, I usually make it. Probably never will buy their bread again, but their dinner rolls and french bread are good.

  • Darlene
    July 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    To your point about regular products being with GF. I went to Walmart and headed to the GF section. I bought a box of GF bread mix for my breadmaker. The picture on the front was gorgeous. White and fluffy loaf. I came home and made it and ate the best GF bread ever. The next day my head was anchored to my mattress. I figured gluten must have snuck in somewhere else.
    Fast forward to Thanksgiving where I’m making the same mix but kneading it by hand. I’m showing my niece how to eat GF since I KNOW she is way more GF intolerant than I am. She asks, “Auntie, how do you know that it’s GF?” “Well, honey, it sez so right here on the box. See? Hmm.. it sez here somewhere.” Not gluten free, not shelved where it should be, and NOT cool. I didn’t eat it but kneading it made me achy and foggy the next day.
    As soon as I had the clarity to call Walmart (standard 3 days) I pointed it out to them and the ramifications. It’s still there as of last week. 8 months later.
    (Thanks for reading my book.)

    • July 12, 2012 at 3:27 PM

      I was ecstatic the first time I saw the GF area at WalMart. I noticed that there were some things that people had put down on the shelf that didn’t belong there (including some fun elementary age cartoon snacks) which were NOT GF.

      Last time I was there I noticed the aisle shelf of GF was blocked on one side by spices or something like that and the other side of the shelving was stocked with all sorts of bisquick, etc.

      I have been burned by buying non-gf stuff in the GF section often enough at all stores that I try to always look there, but really, I just try to stay away from brands I’m not familiar with. Gluten Free Pantry is awesome for their bread mix and truffle mix. (though not as great as regular home-made).

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      It can be tricky, can’t it, Amy. It really shouldn’t be. It’s not that hard to segregate just the GF stuff. The Bob’s Red Mill stuff can be particularly tricky, since they have both dedicated GF products, and then sell many of the same products in a non-certified-GF form. And sometimes the “gluten-free” label isn’t prominent. I have bought the wrong thing more than once, but luckily always realized it before I used it. Then it’s back to the store, just for a return…
      xoxo Nicole

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:55 PM

      Oh you can’t be serious, Darlene. You poor thing! I remember when you used to think that cross contamination wasn’t a problem for you. You learned otherwise in a hurry, though! I can’t believe it’s still there, 8 months later. Can’t. Won’t. Don’t want to.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sandy
    July 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Hi,

    I’m an American celiac living in The Netherlands.
    Here you can get some standard things in supermarkets but usually you have to go to the health food store or order online. I even had to order from Amazon in Germany to get Sorghum flour after figuring out what it was translated into (and no Google Translate didn’t help!).
    But here they also have different regulations. If there is a chance of gluten being in the product it has to be listed on the label, even if it’s manufactured in a factory where other products containing gluten are made.
    I’ve tried about 10 different packaged gluten free breads here and I think you could probably use them better as sponges and don’t get me started on the taste, what taste!?
    So slowly I’m turning to cook books from other gluten free people as well as websites. It’s not necessarily what I wanted to spend my life doing but I really don’t have any other choice.
    Thanks for sharing your recipes!

    • Cristin
      July 12, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      Sounds like living in Southern Kansas, here in the USA…although we do know what Sorghum is…can even see it growing in the fields right next to me, along with fields and fields and fields of wheat!!!!
      What IS the same is that there are few to NO resources when it comes to finding supermarkets with GF products. The very limited selection we do have is also mixed right in with the other specialty foods such as the pure wheat gluten, etc… It’s just wrong and very time consuming to ensure I’m literally not poisoning my daughter every time I go to the store. At this point, I’d take an isle, even if it was next to the dog food one.

    • Amy-The Quirky Gluten Free Runner
      July 12, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      Cristin, I hear you. When we visit my parents in rural parts, we make sure we pack everything we think we’ll want. It’s an hour to the large city and the two local grocery stores in town have just a few things, but not what we’ve fallen in love with.

      It’s sometimes is bad for celiac, but last year my sister and her family flew in for the holidays. They totally forgot to get a few things at the grocery store in teh city before driving down. . . try explaining “egg replacer” to small town people. THey took us to the dried eggs, the egg beaters. They totally weren’t getting “egg replacer” until I pulled it up on the smart phone. “ooohh, no”. Off for an hour each way drive to get it for my sister’s son so they could make –gee, now i’m not even sure what the heck they were making for him.!

    • Tammy
      July 13, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      At

    • Cristin
      July 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Amy–I totally understand! That’s my life / my daughter’s life, everyday around here. Some days she says it’s just easier not to worry about eating, so she goes and takes a nap. :-(
      “Luckily,” I lost my job when she was hospitalized last March 2011 and again in April 2011 with sepsis–due to food bacteria crossing over into her blood stream from her small intestine being so damaged…we almost lost her! This is how we eventually received a diagnosis for 3 years of chronic anemia!.–So, I have been blessed with being able to access blogs, such as this, that help me help her try to be normal again.

  • July 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    I agreed most of the point and personal experienced —> I supplied fresh gluten free baked goods wholesale locally in south florida, recently I just had enough with a gourmet market I co-operate with who wants to take in gluten free products because their customers asked for it all the time. I was very happy to do the job at the beginning, my baked goods were baked fresh without any preservatives or chemical added so there is only a day or 2 shelve life, over the memorial day weekend I delivered on friday and they did not put it out on friday / saturday / sunday because they were busy. Eventually they were put out on monday then customers bought them of course complaint about them, then I had to eat all the returns. On top of that, this store do not allow me to show my name and they had to use their own labels; the mark up is 100 – 120% of the cost I gave them and I had to eat all the returns if it did not sell. Enough is enough, I then went to local green markets at downtown west palm beach and palm beach gardens, every single loaf of bread I made fresh sold on the day I made them; and customers come back to me week after week to get cookies / cake or other baked goods. I am enjoying this even it is hard work since I have to truck the tent, table, chairs, baked goods…. to the site every single time, but it was worth it that I can directly communicate with my clients and they do not have to pay that 100% – 120% mark up!!!

    joey

  • Sarah LM
    July 12, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    #8! At the “gluten-free” section of my local FreshCo (cheaper/no-name version of Sobey’s…a Canadian grocery store chain), I found the regulars – cereals, crackers, Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free mixes….and Bob’s package of WHEAT GLUTEN. Purified death in a bag! In the GF section! My friend complained to the manager and they said they’d fix it but that was months ago and nothing has changed ><

    • July 12, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Oh my goodness, Sarah, that just knocked the wind right outta me. Vital wheat gluten scares the bejeezus outta me, even when it’s 3 ailes over! And to have it in the gluten-free aisle makes me feel like I have to sleep with one eye open or something. I wouldn’t ever shop in that store again, if I could help it.
      xoxo Nicole

    • Deborah Nowland
      July 13, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      I saw the same thing at our Walmart. So Dangerous!

    • Cristin
      July 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

      I refuse to go to Walmart because of that very same thing…Even though it is the nearest grocery for us (25 min. away), I drive the 40-45 min. to a Kroger (only other option) which at least attempts to carry a few GF items and place them all together in a small middle section…facing the bread/bakery items (so you get to see all the wonderful pastries and donuts and cakes that you cannot have anymore, while you pick up your box of rice pasta and “fake cheerios”, as my daughter says). LOL Lord! We have a LONG way to go, don’t we?

  • July 12, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    #9! There are times when I’m grateful for – almost – any gluten-free meal but I really love it when it tastes good. There have been a couple I couldn’t eat. At Carrabba’s, they assured me they could make a GF cobb salad. Great. Love cobb salad. It came with chicken and tomato, nothing else. They weren’t sure if the rest had CC. I would have ordered something else if they’d just told me that upfront.

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:57 PM

      I’m glad they were erring on the side of caution, Shannon, but they definitely should have told you ahead of time that it was going to be a non-cobb, cobb salad. :/
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anita
    July 12, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    We have stopped eating in restaurants as my husband, who has celiac disease, has had too many adverse reactions after dining out. We were even served the wrong pasta dish at a high end restaurant on Long Island a few months ago that claimed to have a “gluten free” preparation area. When I questioned the waiter on how the mix up happened, I received a blank stare and “attitude”. I have an envelope full of coupons for free items, which were received when I call about a product’s ingredients, and which will probably go unused as we don’t want to take any more chances with products that may or may not be gluten free. My solution to all of this is to enjoy cooking gluten free, in my gluten free kitchen.

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:59 PM

      That knee-jerk send-you-coupons thing is so strange to me, Anita. I have had that happen to me, too. Keep the coupons, give me the info (hold the attitude)!
      xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Oh, the brand new Hy-Vee, Inc. made your list at #8. . . yup, they put the organic/healthfood/gluten free food (that costs more anyway) right there two aisle behind the dog food. Makes me wonder what they really think of people who spend more money on purpose on food in their store. (and by design, they really could move the pet food aisle).

    #9 I’ve always wondered WHY OutbackSteakhouse cannot have a button on their ordering machine that with a simple push of “celiac” the food automatically is entered into the kitchen (without everything we cant ingest).

    • Lisa
      July 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM

      That surprises me — our neighborhood HyVee (we have two in town — I don’t shop at the other one) has a beautiful Health Market section. Since it’s on the perimeter of the store, it’s easy to get to. They have a great GF selection, helpful department manager who will special order whatever she can and then sometimes make it a permanent selection on the shelves. I guess it depends on the store’s management. Then again, our store has to compete with a local co-op and a Natural Grocers for the health/organic/GF market so maybe that keeps them on their toes. Like any retail chain, the quality of service is more closely linked to who is managing/staffing that particular location. Communication is key, I’m learning — along with all the rest of us navigating our GF way through restaurants and retail outlets.

    • July 16, 2012 at 11:57 PM

      That is so true, Lisa, about the quality of the management of a particular store having a lot of bearing on the quality of service for gluten-free, and for everything else. And a little competition never hurt either!
      xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Don’t get me started on #9. Just because there’s a GF menu, doesn’t mean the people have been trained in GF/allergen safety. One of our dds ordered off a GF menu at a popular restaurant. They put something breaded on her plate (some kind of potato side dish?) when dd had specified the GF option. When we complained, they took her plate away and brought it back without the breaded stuff — yes, brought it back, the *same* plate, where the breaded stuff had been scraped off and the “GF” option added.

    And I keep telling grocers who tout their many GF choices (like Trader Joe’s, where they ought to know better) that they should be more judicious in where they put the GF stuff. TJ’s often has GF baking mixes on low shelves, underneath wheat-based baking mixes and bags of wheat flour. They nod and say they understand, but nothing changes.

    I love that we can shop at Bob’s Red Mill, even though it’s a bit of a drive (we go every other month), and buy their GF foods in bulk, in a separate aisle.

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      Oh, no, Jean. Not the same plate! That’s always the fear, but I tell myself that I’m worrying needlessly, that a server would never do that. But of course they would, when they don’t get it. How scary! I shop at Trader Joe’s every single week, and love so many things about it, but I generally stick to whole foods there. I am growing more and more annoyed with their “no gluten ingredients” label, since almost every single item with that label was also made on shared equipment. It’s confusing, if you’re new or in a rush. But I love that they rebrand certified GF items, like rolled oats and pasta, so I hesitate to complain. Forget I said anything!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Cynthia
    July 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    #9!!!! Oh hell yes!
    And might I add…
    #10 stop putting “gluten free” labels on products that never had gluten in the first place. I recently saw one on OJ…I mean come on!

    • Sarah LM
      July 12, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      Agreed! I feel like that’s cheating, somehow…the herbal fruit tea bags I bought were labeled gluten-free, as were some freezies. I’ve always wanted to figure out if the prices change with the new label but have never been able to track down a pre- and post- gf label price to compare.

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      Hopefully, that will be sorted out when a federal GF labeling law is passed, Sarah. The best is when they put GF on water!
      xoxo Nicole

    • April
      July 27, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Sarah, I did actually see Barley malt in a tea I bought recently…. So labelling tea as GF may seem absurd, but can be a good idea. :-)

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:03 PM

      *snort* Good #10. Opportunism, plain and simple, Cynthia. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Marilyn
    July 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Genius – pure genius! Thank you so much for printing what we’ve all been thinking!
    I had a similar conversation with someone at Udi’s a while back. I stopped buying their ‘all-holes, all the time’ bread & they flooded my inbox with ads, coupons, invitations to dinners, etc.
    Great post!

  • Steph
    July 12, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Hi Nicole!
    I’ve followed your blog for quite awhile, and well… you are awesome!
    I have your book, use your book, love your book and I can’t say enough about how much it’s helped me maintain a ‘mainstream’ life while being GF.
    Thanks for this post that brings to light many of the reasons we need to stay diligent about our food, not just GF, but all food. If we don’t demand what we want/need from the food industry, we won’t get it. Basic economic principle here, supply and demand…
    Great post. Keep up the good work!!

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      You got it, Steph. I know the feeling of just being grateful that we have so much more than we had 8 years ago, when I started feeding my son GF. But I fight that feeling, because of just what you said. We must demand, so they supply!
      xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    I’ve ordered the hamburger without the bun, wrapped in lettuce but I really didn’t enjoy it much. Still, I appreciate the fact that I can order something besides a drink and actually, I’d rather forgo the bun than eat any of the commercially available gluten free buns I have tried. :-(

    I do think it’s getting better all the time though.

    • Patti
      July 14, 2012 at 4:27 PM

      O Fatcat! Our whole family has gone to burgers wrapped in lettuce. Love ’em!

  • Jeff
    July 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    These are all valid points, but I take issue with categorizing these as “lies.”

    “Lies” 1, 4, 5, and 6 aren’t really saying anything. I get indignant about vague marketing claims, and that’s all these are– meaningless, self-serving fluff companies use to make themselves sounds like your generous friend when really, “It’s business.”

    As for 2 and 3, who is making these claims? GF products often end up being more expensive (for valid reasons, not to gouge us) and sometimes are sold in specialty shops, but what’s the problem with that? I would prefer the products to be overpriced and hard to find than for them not to exist at all.

    For 8, that’s too bad that you’ve had to shop at poorly run grocery stores, but I’ve been to many, many grocery stores that get it right, like Wegmans stores in the Northeast which have large, well-stocked, well-positioned gluten free product sections (with the best prices too :).

    For 9, surely you’ve seen good and bad attempts at gluten free menus, or at “regular” menus with allergen information notes about every dish, done well or poorly. Would it be better for them not to offer the menu, or not to indicate allergen information? Any restaurant requires (IMO) a conversation with the order-taker to make sure GF needs are understood. Where’s the “lie” here?

    As for 7, what’s the problem? And what’s the lie?

    I know living gluten free can be frustrating, but it seems preferable not to confuse ubiquitous marketing-speak and attempts at satisfying gluten free needs with a pack of lies.

    • Cristin
      July 12, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      Seriously, Jeff? What a joke. Two things I know for certain about you:
      1. You have a choice. In other words, you get to pick and choose IF you eat GF or not. It’s not life or death for you and it certainly doesn’t control you.

      2. There’s NO WAY you are coming from the same place as Nicole, the author, (and myself) where the perception of lies described are related to our experiences, not only as they have been felt by us (perhaps being gouged a little extra at the supermarket seems minimal on the surface), but ultimately through the pain we’ve felt in watching our CHILD suffer!

      #7. IS a legitimate LIE. I’m not sure why you would dispute this? The food DOES NOT taste the same! The only way you could even challenge this is if you had not ever tried boxed GF food! I’ve purchased product after product like this only to watch my teen daughter literally GAG them up and wash them down the drain. I’ve wanted so badly for her to have things to pack in her lunches that were like she was used to, that would make her feel somewhat normal again, in addition to saving us time. THEY LIE to play on those very emotions and exploit our pocketbook. I’d love to see the consumer research with actual customers to verify the data to PROVE they taste “just the same!” My daughter disagrees, as does everyone else in the family.

      About #9. YES. I think unless they know what the H they are doing, they should not even have a GF menu. WE KNOW THAT WE CANNOT HAVE CROUTONS. This is NOT a GF menu. What we NEED to know is that their Chef, Servers and Management are well trained in the specifics of food allergies and gluten free special dietary needs–including cross-contamination!! It might not seem like a big deal to you, but it feels like a “LIE” to my daughter when they list she can have french fries on their GF menu only to find out on further investigation that they got a little “busy” and used the dedicated GF frier for the cheesesticks earlier in the night! (Applebees–but thought it would be “okay” because the hot oil would probably melt away any left over gluten…). If I hadn’t asked, I would had not been told. Nevertheless, she didn’t get fries that night, they were listed on the GF menu…SOMEBODY LIED. Have YOU ever been let down? Wouldn’t YOU agree it’s just better NOT to get your hopes up vs. having to be let down? So, YES, to answer your question..on #9.
      For another example, see my pizza response above to Shan. We can do this all night long if you’d like……

      I’m not sure why you are a part of this community, but Nicole does a lot of good for all of us. For you to challenge her use of terminology, which is likely based on HER perceptions as a result of her experiences as a Mother to a Celiac child, is out of line. YOU, Sir, need to think about the contribution YOU are making before you speak.

    • Amy-The Quirky Gluten Free Runner
      July 12, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      I totally am in love with Gluten Free Pantry Truffle Brownie Mix. ONce you put icing on them, no one seems to be able to tell teh differnce.

      One guy at work is like ‘everything GF is crappy tasting’ which is sad, b/c his wife is celiac, ‘but she can eat a slice of pizza, she can’t eat two’. UGH. for someone so book smart, it is sad to see them poison the wife with no understanding of the illness. He’s surprised I don’t “cheat”.

      Anyway, as far as I know, Hersheys’ cocoa is GF and I make that recipe for the frosting. It’s really good. THe brownie mix already has chocolate chips in it to. My inlaws rave about them too. The last time I made them, I placed the cooled whole piece on parchment paper, then sliced into little squares and put into the freezer in a ziploc bag. It is the only time the brownies have lasted more than three days in my house (it’s going on two weeks!). Warning, the brownies do call for a stick of butter!

      oooh, and CHEBE. If you can find that or order it, it’s a mix (and they also have premade, frozen, but not worth the $$$ except at holdiays for the rolls). It’s made here in Iowa from Tapioca flour, the pizza crust is awesome for making into crackers and the rolls are fabulous (my in laws rave about them and they aren’t celiac) http://www.chebe.com

      I believe all these things are available on amazon.com for ordering. Heck, I’d even be willing to send you a box of each if you want, just to let you be able to try them, ’cause they are so blasted good.

  • Shelley
    July 12, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    Everything you said is just so true. Even our mainstream grocery chain has stopped carrying many of my favorite gluten free products. They said that they just didn’t sell weel. Then why when I came in to buy the product, there were only one or two left on the shelf? I use to buy 4 packages at a time. Now i have to go to either whole foods or the mom and pop specialty stores to get what i want.

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      What a shame, Shelley. Usually the best thing to do in that circumstance is to mail order the few things you really need and love. Usually, the prices are better that way.
      xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    All I can say is thank you for posting this.

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:07 PM

      You bet, Stephanie. My pleasure. Thank you for the nice note. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • July 12, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    #9 is why I’ve given up on most restaurants. That and they all got me sick from cross contamination. Its easier to just cook the food, and yummier too. That’s saying a lot because I am not the best cook out there. I’m learning to bake because your recipes are idiot proof. So thank you for that.

    • Shan
      July 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Same here, and things like pizza companies offering gf bases but not making their toppings ingredients available leaves our friends and family with the misconception that we can eat it. Annoying and misleading. Is there a T-shirt about this?! lol

    • Cristin
      July 12, 2012 at 5:48 PM

      OR even better, we were recently REFUSED SERVICE from a local pizza company that actually advertises a specific GF menu of options…because my daughter “is a CELIACS!” (Love the plural, maybe they somehow knew she was a Gemini?) They apparently buy a frozen crust from Whole Foods or somewhere that’s GF and use cross-contaminated toppings. They had a “Celiacs” get sick from it the prior week (duh) and so they won’t serve to any more of “them!” Wait for it…it gets better…When I asked to speak with the manager, I didn’t have to wait long as he was already hot-footing it up to the register to figure out why I was holding up the line. I asked him about the specific GF menu on the life size banner hanging beside us, and stated I was curious how it could state “Gluten Free” with a list of pizza types that were available, but yet I was being told that basically, even IF I were not being REFUSED service, I would be risking cross-contamination from flour, which made it essentially, NOT GF any more. ?? He got SO mad at me because “I DIDN’T GET IT! THE CRUST WAS GF (LADY, as he called me), BUT THERE’S FLOUR ALL OVER THIS PLACE, COULDN’T I SEE?!!” (duh!) So, after a 45 min. drive to go to what we thought was a new local pizza place that advertised a GF dedicated menu, I not only felt “lied” to, I was patronized and made to feel stupid, and left without a dinner option or time to go back and cook for my daughter before Bible Study. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first incident of this type of thing around here, and unfortunately, nobody really cares. He’s still getting rave reviews for what looked like cafeteria NY style pizza and is even looking into a second location in town. Wow!

    • July 12, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      Oh, no, Cristin. Refused service? Really? And you went so far out of your way … Truth be told, I’m not ever really comfortable with GF pizza in a non-GF pizza joint. Too much potential for cross-contamination. But shame on them for touting their “gluten-free” food, and then refusing you service. At least Domino’s was completely up front about their “gluten-free” pizza.:/ I think things will get better. I really do. But I know it hasn’t been fast enough. I’m so sorry.
      xoxo Nicole

    • July 13, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Oh know! Cristin, I hope you wrote a scathing Yelp review. Not sure about your area, but in NY, it’s actually against health dept code to advertise as GF if the actual kitchen isn’t contaminate free so you might be able to get the health dept involved so other people don’t make the same mistake.

    • Cristin
      July 13, 2012 at 1:23 PM

      I did comment on UrbanSpoon, but will do a Yelp review, as well. After seeing the disappointment on my daughter’s face when the reality hit that we really had not found a new. reliable place for her to enjoy pizza…I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure nobody else falls for their LIES only to be heartbroken and kicked out of the place! Thanks for the advice re: the HD code. I will call and see if we have any such rules or regulations here, although I seriously doubt it. It’s certainly worth a try. :-)

    • July 12, 2012 at 8:08 PM

      Instead of idiot-proof, let’s call them turnkey operations, Addy. You don’t seem to be anything like an idiot. :) We don’t go out much at all, but when we’re away from home like we are now, I have to step outside my comfort zone. It can be scary. I know.
      xoxo Nicole

    • candace
      July 13, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      we are gf for the sake of my son, that although he does not have celiac disease he does have a gluten sensitivity and he has autism. Going wheat free has been a God-send for him and us…our entire family of six is now gluten free.

      On the rare occassion that we go out to eat, my kids always complain, “mom, your food is much better. do we have to eat out again?”

      Such a wonderful compliment from kids ages 14, 11 and two 8 year olds when it has taken us six years to get to our current position of their liking my homemade gf food better than something quick and convenient like at a restaurant. GF or not, they prefer my food…and it is thanks to people like you Nicole that make that easier!!

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