Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are...

Celiac disease seems to be sprouting up everywhere I look. At the time of my diagnosis, the only thing I knew of gluten was that it was a pretty tasty meat substitute - which was probably more than most, leave it to the vegetarians to know about the weirdo food stuffs. 

Anyway, I came to learn about all things gluten, gluten free, and celiac related through the joy of the Internet. I bought a copy of the gluten free bible (it lived on the shelf next to my Oxford English study bible I had to buy for some class - the spine of which was significantly less cracked). Doctor after doctor, website after website kept telling me how lucky I was to be diagnosed in the Internet age, with information so readily available. 

And yet I felt, and still sometimes feel, like such an outsider. A crumbly gluten free cracker in a sea of plump dinner rolls. That is until today. I stopped by my local CVS to have some prescriptions filled and, deciding it was worth the wait for the drugs, milled around the aisles of useless junk.  I came upon a row of books on various health conditions, skimmed them as usual, and was shocked to find a bright yellow copy of "Living Gluten Free for Dummies".  A book on celiac disease? In a Beachwood, Ohio pharmacy? Had I wandered into the twilight zone? 

A further surprise came from a pharmacist tech, who, upon my asking if there was gluten in my new prescription, remarked that he was confused by so many people asking him that lately, as he'd failed to find a single drug that listed gluten in it's ingredients. (Apparently, he's never heard of glutenfreedrugs.com.) The fact that it could sneak in as modified food starch or wheat protein aside, it lead me to wonder, where are these east side Cleveland celiacs? 

I pondered this as I shopped in Whole Foods. Like good friends, the signs at Whole Foods point the way to the best in gluten free options. But to whom are they pointing; where are these fellow gluten freers? Still hot on the trail, but yet continuously a few a step to late, I found further proof of my ever present, yet invisible brethren...

There! You see it! Shopping guides for all types of food allergies and yet the gluten free one has been nearly picked clean! (Picture is a bit fuzzy yes, but the one gluten free guide is second from the left.) Proof positive for the existence of Cleveland celiacs! 

I feel like an anthropologist doing detective work on a lost civilization. 

So here's my question Cleveland: you're shopping at CVS's, talking to pharmacists about your accidental gluten ingestion fears, but when it comes to education, activism, and cuisine, you're nowhere to be found. Has no one realized a gluten free restaurunt could clean up in this town? It's time to get it together and get together. ...It looks like I might have my work cut out for me.

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