In our local supermarket, the gluten free section is in the same aisle as the ethnic foods. It’s right there beside the Asian and Hispanic food. When they put it in the aside (along with the big sign saying gluten free) my husband made the joke about it “being the food of my people.” It’s kind of a funny statement, but there’s some truth to it. See, living gluten free and the gluten free community are a subculture.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary online, a sub-culture is:
an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society <a criminal subculture>
As citizens of the world we are all part of larger cultures and smaller subcultures. You can consider it like states being a part of the United States of America. Each state has is own individual identity and yet as a whole, they make up America. Each state is a subculture as a part of the greater US culture. But you can drill that down even more. every city is a subculture within their individual state. No one can really mistake someone who is part of Austin as someone from Dallas, but they’re all still considered Texans. Each city could be considered their own subculture. And you can still take that down to the different neighborhoods within each subculture. There’s a difference between the boroughs of Queen and Brooklyn. Seems pretty simple right?
Now lets take a look at in the perspective of people. This is me. As a culture I am an American. As you can see from the picture I am Caucasian, very Caucasian, like ecru, and that is my ethnic group. I am thoroughly middle class, even though I don’t like to admit it, so that would be my economic group. This is where we get into more specifics about me. As you can see I have some ridiculously awesome hair (sort of like a magical unicorn or mermaid) and might assume that I belong to a counter culture like punks or emos, but I just like the way I look with blue and green hair and think it makes me look like an anime character. I also read a lot of comic books, manga, and play video games, so I really fit into the Geek subculture. I also enjoy crocheting and cross stitching, so I’m totally part of the Crafter subculture. And, of course, as long as you have been reading along every week, you know that I’m part of the Gluten Free subculture.
Sure gluten free is kind of one of these smaller subcutlures, but everyone who is eating gluten free for actual medical reason, which for the rest of the post we’ll call them the Celitariat (because we totally need a better name than we’ve gotten so far.) The Celitariat have to deal with the outfall of the Glutarchs (those who choose to eat gluten free for either social or fad diet reasons) who order gluten free and then get a regular beer, because they can. They have to deal with the same issue when eating out or trying to order in a restaurant. They also have to deal with the super expensive processed foods OR make everything from scratch (and no body has time for that.) For the Celitariat is totally a social group (and anyone who has seen the forum section of celiac.com or gone to a gluten free support group knows that) and it’s an economic group because we all suffer from the same price problems.
Anyone who has looked at the food in the gluten free section or looked at a gluten free product has seen that they are more expensive. Let’s take a look at some comparables:
Bob’s Red Mill, a staple in the modern world, and something that should become a staple in your gluten free kitchen. They make some of the most readily available gluten free flout, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first gluten free flour that everyone uses. They also have some of the most accessible gluten free oatmeal. Now, lets look at the prices of these. On the left we have regular steel cut oats (the best kind of oats). The regular steel cut oats in a 24 oz package is $3.19. It’s not unreasonable, but more than you would ever pay for that cardboard tubes. Now, the same size bag of gluten free steel cut oats is $6.29, almost twice the cost.
There is a reason for this with oats at least. Oats should be gluten free, and yet they’re not. Apparently, it’s very common for barley and wheat to make it into oat fields, so you’re Quaker Oats actually has wheat in it, kind of like hot dogs have rats in them. It’s something that no one actually discusses but it part of the reality of the world. The seeds from the wheat fields and barley fields just get into the oat fields. Gluten free oat farmers need to go through and pull out of these of the field. There’s a lot of extra labor there, so I can understand why gluten free oats cost more, but almost twice the cost…that just seems…yeah
This is probably one of the cheaper versions of the gluten free frozen pizza (and pretty much the only way anyone in the Celitariat could possibly get pizza without making their own. And if you look at this, without really looking at it, you’re going “HEY THE GLUTEN FREE OPTION IS CHEAPER!” Yeah, don’t get too excited. The gluten free pizza is literally less than a quarter of the size of the gluten one. Actually it’s almost one fifth the size….one fifth….and only one dollar cheaper.
The estimated cost increase for a gluten free diet is about one third more than the cost of a gluten filled diet. That’s a strange burden that the Celitariat have to bear. But there’s some relief in the form of math…or your CPA hating you forever. Celiacs get tax deductions for eating gluten free. Sure it’s just off of the difference between gluten foods and gluten free foods. But you can also get reimbursed for driving to your favorite gluten free bakery or store, and the cost of buys gluten free foods online. You have to spend at least 10% of your adjusted gross income with all of your medical expenses, so if you just got diagnosed KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. Between you doctor visits and endoscopy, you could make it this year, but you might never get the chance again. Everyone else…be glad that you have good health…?