What's Up With the 'Evil Wheat' Gluten-Free Craze?

Kansas Viewpoint

Belief that wheat is deadly and gluten a poison seems to have mushroomed overnight; low nutrition, high-fat, gluten-free products proliferate

Published on: October 9, 2012

I have been remiss in my duty to follow every emerging, whack-o diet craze. Somehow, gluten-free mushroomed when I wasn’t looking.

Oh, I admit, I heard it mentioned a few times and I even spared a moment or two of pity for those poor souls whose bodies can’t tolerate one of one the world’s commonest food ingredients, the gluten in wheat, rye, barley and other grains.

But it has been only in the last couple of weeks that I realized how many “gluten-free” labels are popping up and in what amazing places.

Today I spotted “gluten-free” on evaporated milk, ground bison, organic apples and yogurt.

In the processed aisle, you can find “gluten-free” foods laden with sugar and fat and virtually absent protein, B-vitamins or niacin that wheat and other grains supply.

Really, people? I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to cash in on a hot marketing trend, but isn’t the average food consumer confused enough about where their food comes from? Do we have to lead them to believe wheat is a milk ingredient?

Cows may chow down happily on the grains that have been a healthy staple of the human and animal diet for more than 10,000 years but the milk that gets pumped out of their udders has not a trace of gluten. Bison, on the hoof or in the hamburger aisle, have never been known to sprout heads of grain. Apples, my friends, are a fruit, not a grain. And yogurt is a dairy product.  

So why on earth would these foods get a “gluten-free” label? Is it the equivalent of a “safe” umbrella for those folks seeking a gluten-free diet and who may not know what foods to avoid? Of just a stunt to encourage purchase by people who are information-challenged?

It concerns me to see this kind of labeling for the same reason it concerns me to see “organic” and “all natural” everywhere you turn. It implies that the stuff in the next aisle is somehow inferior or unnatural.

But “gluten-free” goes a step beyond and implies that grain-based foods are something to avoid. That is not a message that promotes healthy eating, especially when “gluten-free” is high fat, high sugar and low nutrition.

Cereal growers – wheat, barley, rye, oat – join forces now. It’s time to nip this trend.

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  1. adult seo of my-littlesecret.com says:

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I have to wonder if all the sprays/chemicals that are at the root of the problem. Or perhaps the genetically modified grains. I have been to the Hospital 3 times in the last ten years with my throat closing off due to chemicals on Cherries. Broccolli. Corn made by the Big Giant. I could eat wheat just fine, my mother used to bake all the time. My wife also bakes. Give me a teaspoon of flour and wow! Give me a slice of Whole Wheat and I get rolling on the floor stomach aches....through me in 4 hours. It is totally a pain to have to live Gluten free. Manufacturers put it in all kinds of foods off the shelf to thicken or as a filler. I have to wonder if people realize what happens to a person who is allergic/intolerant to Gluten. The little villi in our small intestine disappear so we can't absorb nutrients from our food. What kind of health problems down the road do you suppose might come from that? Perhaps a better topic to write about might be "Should we as farmers be a little more responsible when using Chemicals on our crops, perhaps they are hurting people?"

  3. Jane says:

    Just because the food product isn't itself made with gluten related products (wheat and such) doesn't mean its free of gluten. That is, in the processing/commercialization of the food products producers may add fillers or ingredients that may contain gluten--not to mention cross contamination. The diet is really for people with intolerance (allergy)

  4. Cathy says:

    For me, the gluten-free label helps me avoid products that are, actually, toxic to my system. Most ketchup, soy sauce, many ground beef and sausage products, that I would have assumed to be gluten-free, are actually not safe for me to eat. If I can finally find a jar of spaghetti sauce that is guaranteed to be without gluten, there's a chance that I can eat it without agony. Even these labels do not truly guarantee 100%, but they are a help. It's hard to buy things as apparently harmless as olives in an olive bar, plain walnuts, and other supposedly "non-gluten" foods these days because far too many things are contaminated by wheat flour. People with Celiac disease and other gluten-intolerance illnesses certainly deserve the right to avoid being poisoned, don't you think? I wish I could eat wheat, barley, and rye -- but I can't. Thanks to those who at least help me avoid buying the wrong thing by putting a label on!