This picture of an adorable, hand carved sign has sat on my digital camera for some six months now, just waiting an anecdote good enough to let it out into the (Internet) light of day.
I'm sad to say, not a one has come by yet.
In fact, no matter how I tried, I just couldn't find a reason to talk about the Middlefield Cheese Shop in Middlefield, Ohio. Sure, my trip out to that adorable old-timey cheese factory was nice, as any trip to Amish country ever is, and who doesn't like assorted cheeses? (Have you heard, nothing pleases like 'em!), but in the end I felt there was little to blog home about.
Oh how silly I was.
Fact is, gluten-free life is growing. From New York to San Fransisco and literally everywhere in between gluten-free products are finding their way onto shelves. This summer, General Mills is putting out gluten-free corn chex, cinnamon chex, honey nut chex, and strawberry chex while Betty Crocker adds gluten free yellow cake, brownies, and cookies to the mix (get it, mix?) - and that's just this summer. (These are supposedly hitting shelves June 1st. Remember to make sure you buy the package that SAYS gluten free on it, as the cross-contaminated/unsafe old generation productes will probably be in stock a while.) Imagine where will be next summer, gluten-freeers. The possibilities are endless.
But these great advancements in gluten-free quality of life have only come because we've pushed, we've shouted, we've made ourselves and our numbers known. And for that reason, I feel like it's important to share one very exciting thing about the Middlefield Cheese Shop (assorted, award winning homemade cheeses aside), they have a very nice selection of gluten-free products.
Gluten-free and Amish Country are phrases I'd never imagined would go hand in hand, but among strudel fillings and shoefly pies were Gluten-Free Pantry mixes, tapioca flours, and well labeled gluten-free pastas. I, for one, am not just stunned, but completely and utterly pleased to see that news of celiac disease has reached even a population who so distances itself from the rest of the country, and that they have taken the importance of gluten-free living to heart, striving for better health for themselves and their children.
And in the interest of recognizing gluten-free providers in the most surprising of places, I'd like to give a warm gluten-free shoutout to The Fowler's Milling Company in Chardon, Ohio. Known for their traditional American baking mixes, The Fowler's Milling Company store would absolutely be my first stop for jams, syrups, and pancake or biscuit mix in my pre-gluten-free days. ...These days though? I figured I'd best steer clear, after all traditional American rarely translates well to gluten-free. But upon entering the quaint, red country house that serves as a store front for the Fowler's Milling Company, I was absolutely shocked to find bags of brown rice flour, tapioca flour, soy flour, corn meal, potato flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, specially marked wheat-free corn pasta, and recipe cards available for free of recipes for traditional baked goods made with oat flour along side the glutenous products. The lady working there said the owner keeps these things in stock for "people who don't eat wheat", as if that was a normal and every day concern. She hardly even seemed to notice my amazement for her products.
I look forward to the day where everyone can wave off our gluten-problem with such ease. And if celiac disease and gluten-free living is reaching as far as Chardon and Middlefield, well, that day might be a lot closer than I thought.
How about you? Where's the most surprising place you've ever come across a gluten free product? Leave me a comment and recognize that store that recognized your gluten-free needs!