Park Slope is probably the East Coast ground zero for people who want to observe radical diets, so it’s not like I’m short of gluten-free options. The Coop and Union Market each stock and abundance of gluten-free delights, so I was able to dive into my new lifestyle with no trouble at all.
And I immediately encountered my first annoyance, specifically on behalf of people with actual celiac disease. I bought a bowl of cornflakes – my first foray into gluten-freedom. Cornflakes, being essentially baked corn meal, should have no gluten, but you’ll definitely find it in Kellogg’s. I bought a European box of cornflakes advertised as gluten-free. The box depicted a pastoral scene.
They were shitty. I’ll go into, in the future, why lots of g-free things taste like shit, but here the issue was not the lack of gluten. It was that the cereal contained no sugar, salt, or other flavoring agent.
This is a pattern in gluten-f offerings. Rather than just removing the gluten and leaving the consumer to fend for his- or herself, companies like to also take out anything that’s considered remotely at odds with healthy eating: fat, salt, refined sugar. Basically, they’re forcing the celiac consumer to amend his or her lifestyle and become some kind of food zombie. It’s like if you lost your license but were then told you weren’t fit to ride a subway either.
It gets worse. Try buying gluten-free granola (which shouldn’t be that hard, given that granola is basically oats and sugar) and you’ll find that not only can’t you find any that’s not sweetened with fruit juice, but you can barely find any that is not alive. I’ll repeat that – the granola is alive. It’s so raw that the sprouts have not been killed. There are little green shoots all over it. All you wanted was not to have to eat gluten. But now you basically have to swallow a cactus every morning. Or, to look at it another way, you have to slaughter a village full of new life at the start of each day.
If I really did have celiac disease, I’d be pissed. My life is restricted enough without being forced to go without sodium, real sugar, and the knowledge that everything I eat is at least not going to continue to grow inside of me.*
*I refused to eat more than a bite of the living granola, on account of I was paralyzed by the idea that I’d wake up in a few weeks and have a vine snaking out of my ass. Sorry for that visual, but there you go.