A Simple, 3-Part Scoop on Gluten Free.

We’ve all heard it: “gluten-free this” and “gluten-free that”. But what is it all really about?

When Healthy Living was a new, tiny store gluten-free options were limited to one brand and a few terrible-tasting options.  Gradually, interest in gluten-free diets grew as people attributed a wide range of symptoms to gluten.  Happily, when we moved to our new store 3 years ago, the range of products had grown immensely and we dedicated an entire area of our store to the world of gluten-free foods.  We are happy to offer the largest selection of gluten-free grocery, frozen and fresh products in Vermont….and just about anywhere else we’ve traveled!  We’re proud of our fantastic gluten-free department.  Kids with gluten intolerance can now eat pizza, we can all have gluten-free cupcakes, and life is much more delicious!
Scoop 1: Believe it or not, the FDA doesn’t have a regulation on gluten-free prepackaged foods (foods that are prepared AND gluten-free). The term “gluten-free” is currently a proposed FDA regulation, basically a voluntary label for prepackaged foods that contain no wheat, barley, rye or any crossbreed of these grains. To be “gluten-free,” food must not contain ingredients, like wheat flour, that have not been through processing to remove gluten and must not contain ingredients that have been derived with no more than 20 parts per million (ppm) gluten.
Scoop 2: Why are people choosing “gluten-free” anyway? Gluten has been linked to Celiac Disease and a number of other ailments. What is Celiac Disease?(As written by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) “Celiac disease is a digestive disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.” This condition is successfully treated with a gluten-free diet.  There are many other proposed benefits to going gluten-free, from weight loss to increased energy to improved digestion to cleared skin conditions. In addition, studies suggest that a gluten- free diet may have a therapeutic effect on children with autism.  For more on Celiac disease, gluten and other medical information, click these links.
Scoop 3: Gluten-free is not just about the ingredients, it also includes the processing plant, packaging and efforts to uphold the “gluten-free” commitment. For example, Blue Diamond Nut-Thins http://www.bluediamond.com are manufactured in a facility that processes both gluten & gluten-free products. They have a dedicated area for gluten-free production to avoid and prevent cross-contamination. At Blue Diamond, good manufacturing practices and allergen control policy are strictly monitored during the manufacturing process and the finished products are tested for gluten residue to ensure every lot is validated. In fact, Blue Diamond has set the gluten detection limit at <10ppm (to ensure product compliance with both US and Canada regulation which currently set at <20ppm). It is important to research manufacturers and review the source of fillers, additives and other food ingredients.