I’ve mentioned the app Gluten Free Food Finder before. It is super useful when you’re grocery shopping its really useful, but we have one really weird experience with it, namely yogurt. Yup, yogurt, one of those things that should be normally be naturally gluten free (ya’ know as long as they don’t drop pretzels or malted milk balls into the mix) so when it came back with a “contains gluten” warning, it make us really re-think if the app was working.
It is a crowd sourced app, so it’s only as good as the people who use it, so there is always going to be some yahoo who decides to troll the rest. It’s kind of the nature of crowdsourcing or being a part of the digital world. I might be a little obsessed with the Pokemon Go phenomenon, but it’s a new emerging community (and it gets me out to take some Pokewalks so I’m not going to really complain.) If you look at the news stories about the community there are a lot of people doing good things. There’s people who are dropping lures at children’s hospitals so that the kids there can play the game. There’s even one Children’s hospital in Michigan who is using it as a way to get children social while their inpatient. There’s also stories about thieves setting lures to get people’s smartphones or the guy who shot up a couple of player who were driving through a neighborhood catching ‘em all. Honestly, the DDOS crash that the hacker group that happened on Saturday with Pokemon go is the biggest example of this. For all of the people who are doing good and having innocent fun interacting with each other and enjoying the game, there are a few people out there ruining it for everyone. Of course those are the stories that the news actually reports, but that’s because they’re way more interesting. Still, there’s very few cell phone games that can boast that they’re helping the law enforcement community, and I’m kind of proud to be a part of it.
Anyway, that’s a digression in regards to the discussion of this post. So, we were using this crowd sourced app to scan Chiboni greek yogurt and got back “this contains gluten.” According to Chiboni their normal, not flip, yogurt is gluten free. The thing that I like most about this app is it let you know WHAT contains gluten in the item. In this instance is showed L bulgaricus, or Lactobacillus bulgaricus. If anyone of you knows anything about probiotics, this is a bacteria that has nothing to do with bulgur wheat. Absolutely nothing. But because the word had “bulgar” (sic) in it, the app shoed it as a false positive. I’m pretty sure that this wasn’t malicious, but misinformed.
There’s a lot of misinformation in the gluten free community, but that partly because large portions of it live online, and there is a lot of misinformation online. Before this age of the internet, information was being shared through magazine and academic publications. This means that everything needed to be vetted and researched. This means that everything that was shared got rigorously fact checked. The internet as no fact checking, You pretty much have to be your own fact checker (see my GIGO post for more information on that) the same thing goes for all of the crowd sourced apps out there.
We can know that things like Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Monosodium Glutamate don’t really have gluten in them, but they have words where part of them that include the verboten. And people who don’t know or don’t do the research (or even a google search really) get over cautious and get us all into a panic. I was watching Master of Nothing yesterday (because Netflix) and there is a scene about halfway into the series where a Aziz Ansari’s character is given a gluten free cake because “gluten causes lupus.” If they hadn’t set up the character who made that statement to voice all of the crazy stuff that you hear in the internet, I would have been offended, instead that turned this trend that I’ve been discussing into a quick easy joke, and I laughed. We know that we can look online and disprove the “gluten causes lupus” thing. Just like we can quickly google L bulgaricus and msg and see that it doesn’t contain gluten. Can we, sure. Will we, well I would hope so after all of this. Otherwise I have been ranting at you all for a couple of months to no avail.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m waiting for a Snorlax to show up in my neighborhood. I want to name it after my husband.