This past weekend I attended the Gluten Free Garage in Toronto organized by Ronnilyn Pustil. This dynamic lady sure knows how to do an event right and for the right reasons. It was a fantastic event to showcase local companies from around Toronto. It was also a nice intimate venue that enabled not only the attendees but the vendors to get around and visit all the booths. As I made my way around to each vendor I was so happy to see the number of companies that were there because they had a personal story about the effects of gluten and they were also providing a much healthier product.
There were also a few companies that had products that were naturally gluten free. All of these naturally GF products were actually very healthy. There was a tea company called The Honest Leaf, that had a line of tea blends that specifically support various systems in the body. A vegan raw line of very healthy salad dressings (yes some salad dressings do have gluten) called Raw Foodz. Ke-Wa-Za a line of raw, all natural snacks that gives you energy. The Mad Mexican with gourmet Mexican food from premium, fresh and local ingredients with the bold flavours of Mexico.
Those were just a few of the fabulous products I found. For more check out The Gluten Free Garage
Now why am I musing about this. Way back when I went Gluten Free there were not a lot of choices. The last 5 years there have been more and more companies jumping on the GF food train. On one hand I think it is great for us GF Foodies. We have more choices but really how healthy are these choices? Yes you can buy GF Betty Crocker mixes but they are full of crap I just don’t want to put in my body. If you do that is cool, we all make choices that meet our needs.
Here is the problem. If we are healthy individuals with nothing wrong (thinking of my junk food eating teenagers here) you can get away with eating the crappy food without much immediate impact. If you are Celiac or like me Non-Celiac gluten intolerant then the effects of the crappy food can be felt fairly quickly. This is not always GI related. Low energy, achy joints, headaches, skin problems, depression, muscle pain, insomnia etc. can be felt because of a crappy diet. So many times I hear Celiacs tell me, “I stopped eating gluten but I still feel like crap”. The old saying “you are what you eat” isn’t just a cute, catchy phrase.
Trust me I am not perfect when it comes to my diet. I get into ruts when I just don’t care (there is a therapy session in that statement) but I also know how I am going to feel because of it, the one thing I am not is oblivious or in denial about how my diet correlates to how I am feeling.
As a group who eats gluten free because of a medical need NOT a fashionable, trendy way to eat we need to start paying attention to what we eat and the companies providing us with these foods. The small companies I discovered at the show this past weekend are concerned with your health and have put their blood, sweat and tears into their business because they are concerned. Trust me creating a healthy product, throwing your life savings into it and working harder than you could ever imagine is not easy. But like me the owners of these companies had a vision of changing the way we eat and providing a healthy option to the mass produced chemical laden food on the market.
Will Betty Crocker ever go under? Probably not but every day small mom and pop companies that bring us healthier options go under because they just can’t compete with the big guys. Think Walmart vs the small family run stores that have gone out of business once Walmart moves in.
So what am I trying to say? When you can, support these smaller companies whose ingredient list you can pronounce and get through without a chemical engineering degree. Recognize that the reason their products are more expensive than the mass produced stuff is not because they are greedy and just want to make money. It is because the natural healthy food ingredients are more expensive. It is because they can’t order large quantities of packaging and get a price break. It is because they manufacture on a small scale and pay a premium price because if it. But what they offer is a product that is healthy and convenient for you, that was created with you in mind. It was created to solve a problem they recognized in the food market and then bring that solution to you. I thank these small companies everyday because they provide me with amazing products.
Every purchase I made from these companies this past weekend made me happy because I knew I was buying from an entrepreneur that had the same vision I did 4 years ago.