This is the first in a series of continuing articles on the need and ways of messaging our gluten free needs to schools, colleges, our family and social contacts, restaurants and food service businesses.
You can Google up and access hundreds – if not thousands – of websites that go into great detail about gluten free foods, who offers what GF products, the dire and life-threatening consequences of straying, newsletters that announce GF cook-ins w/ recipes, etc., and all of that information is very helpful. If you step back 10 years, rare were the publications that addressed our GF needs and rarer still were food companies that produced GF products. But as time went on, consumer media published enlightening articles on Celiac, small shops developed lines of GF products, and then big business joined in, resulting in many new products – albeit expensive – that we have today. And without a doubt, our GF dietary lives are infinitely better for all of that.
But what happens when our GF kids go off to college and leave the sanctuary of their homes and have to fend for themselves? What happens as we’re bombarded with commercial after commercial, or inundated with newspaper and magazine ads encouraging the viewer/reader to visit McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, the national Pizza chains of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, and Papa John’s, and so on? We can go fly a kite for all of their concern – with the exception of Subway which is ‘experimenting’ with GF rolls in Texas. Kudos to Subway for addressing the need.
We find it hard to understand why, for example, McDonald’s has not made an effort to address our GF needs on their mainstream menu items. According to a recent article in the WSJ, Friday, December 9, 2011, McDonald’s “global same-store sales jumped 7.4% in November and has benefited from its broad menu from low-cost value items to higher-margin premium foods and specialty drinks.” Great for them, but I can’t have a Big Mac & fries. Are we to believe that McDonald’s cannot produce an acceptable GF bun and develop a way to avoid cross-contamination?
We need to start a campaign to the McDonald’s and Starbucks of the world emphasizing they are neglecting and depriving 1 in 130 Americans (to say nothing of the rest the GF world) by not having their food scientists, dietitians and product development people come up with a varied menu to satisfy the needs of those on a gluten free diet. Look at what General Mills has done with their gluten free line. Not only have they made our life easier, but they are fulfilling what could be considered a social responsibility by putting us on an even footing with the non-GFers. A bowl of GF Rice Chex for me, a bowl of Cheerios for you.
What about it out there in GF web/blogland? Any ideas on how to go about tackling the giants? Via Facebook? Twitter? Look at the attention “Occupy” got, or how about the Arab Spring?. It can be done, we just need to do it.
Next, kids off to college.