Monday, April 8, 2013

Gluten free: It's not that expensive, really

A friend recently posted this essay the gist of which is that people who eat gluten free without medical cause make life harder for those with Celiac's and other medical issues with gluten. While the author makes some good points about cross-contamination in restaurants, I disagreed with several points in her post (aside from the "poor me" tone); and especially her assertion that gluten free is expensive.

Ms Strauss's closing paragraph states: 

Also, this life is expensive! Literally, on average, 242% more expensive, according to researchers from the Dalhousie Medical School in Canada. Let me break this down for you: pretzels can run $5-$6 a bag, individual sized pizzas around $15-$20 at restaurants and even $11 for crappy tasting ones from the market, and cupcakes and muffins are in the $4 range. I just spent $12 on a whole-grain gluten-free loaf the other day and didn't think twice about it, because this is just my life. But it doesn't have to be yours.

I don't know where Ms Strauss lives, but that's way more than I would pay even full price for such items here. Let's look at one of the more popular brands, Udi's. At my local Fred Meyer, their items run between $4.99-$6.99, with loaves of bread on the low end. I usually only buy them when they hit the clearance rack, so I usually pay about 1/2  that. The week before this essay came out, I hit the jackpot at our Fred Meyer clearance rack and got two loaves of Essential Baking Company gluten free bread, a bag of Udi's hot dog buns, and a 4 pack of Udi's double chocolate muffins for just under $12. Since I'm the only GF eater in my family, all 4 packages are sitting in my freezer, roughly 3/4 full. 

I can only assume with the "242% more expensive statistic", we're looking at people who eat GF baked products as if they could still afford the 99 cent store brand items (which are probably full of crappy ingredients themselves) . No one, gluten eater or gluten avoider, NEEDS that much bread. If you can afford it, and either have a dream metabolism or don't give a damn about your blood sugar levels, go for it. But you don't HAVE to spend that kind of money. I'm not suggesting anyone who eats gluten free should go low-carb or full Paleo; in fact, some of your best best for cheaper gluten free living include the dirt cheap carbs in potatoes (I can usually get a 5 pound bag for $1) and brown rice (Which I can usually get for 69 cents a pound) . As a bonus, they both contain plenty of the fibre that is apparently elusive to us GF folks.

My take? Don't pretend to have a medical ailment you don't. Of course you wouldn't. And maybe , to make cross contamination less of an issue, make your restaurant orders "protein style" rather than gluten free. But yeah, keep buying those gluten free cookies and bagels. Why? Because your demand will help drive the prices down, so that when I do decide to treat myself to one of those things, I can afford to.

No comments:

Post a Comment