« Food & Drinks

Gluten-free industry a scam??

by Jeff Flynt

That's being posited by two reports circulating the Interweb.

You can't deny that there is a massive push to create everything and anything that is gluten-free.

There is also a push for restaurants to make gluten-free items available on menus for customers.

So that certainly makes it trendy. And what is trendy can be profitable.

But does it make it a scam? No, not necessarily.

Celiac disease is a real thing. According to the Mayo Clinic, Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.

If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). 

There is no denying that more people could discover that they too have celiac disease, if they learn about it from friends, media, etc.

But I will relate a story which made me think of asking this potentially dangerous question.

While living in Scottsdale, Arizona, I worked part-time as a barista at a Coffee Bean. There were occasions when we would run out of items, or an order wouldn't get placed on time and we had to let our customers know.

One particular morning (when we were at our busiest), I worked the register on the day we were out of Soy Milk. Circa 2006, this was a big deal. So it was up to me to let the customer know, "that soy latte you just ordered isn't gonna happen."

Now as I mentioned, we did a lot of soy latte and chai tea business at our store. I had figured on many folks walking out, saying I just can't have my morning caffeine fix, and taking their business to the nearest Starbucks. 

It turns out, each person who had ordered their soy-something or other, ended up saying, "that's okay. Just make it non-fat milk."

If you're lactose intolerant...you're not making that adjustment. You're likely walking out the door, and taking your money elsewhere. But, apparently these customers believed they could live with the "slightly less healthy" option of milk product.

(Photo from: YouTube)