Everywhere we look it seems we’re being sold the concept of “gluten-free.”
For those of us who have had to avoid gluten for years due to serious health problems, labeling something like a package of plain almonds “gluten-free” is a bit weird. As much as I craved public support around this topic all my life, even I am now tempted to make fun—to ask the attendant at the metro, “Is this ride gluten-free?”
It’s almost absurd—except, it’s not.
The rise of gluten sensitivity—in theory and reality—is a prominent issue in today’s global food market. The massive leap in sales of gluten-free products is testament alone. From 2008 to 2012, the annual growth rate for gluten-free products in the U.S. was between 28 and 30 percent, per year. By 2019, sales of gluten-free products are expected to amount to 2.34 billion dollars.
Perhaps a more striking example exists in the restaurant industry, which in 2012 named gluten-free a top three lasting trend. Lasting being the key word here.
While it might be a trend for some, however, it is a serious health risk for others (like me)—and it’s not often clear what’s going on, why, and who’s affected.