F*&k You Food Network (and a plea to change)

This weekend my mother texted me to tell me that Rachel Ray’s show made gluten free thanksgiving stuffing out of cheerios…I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. Part of me is going, well that is just the Glutocracy thinking their being inclusive to us in the Celitariate…well it might be. It’s not hard to make gluten free bread into croutons, or dry it out. I mean half of GF bread is nearly dry enough to be crouton anyway. And the stuff that is really moist will never make croutons, just don’t try. But then again, I suppose I should be happy that gluten free food is getting some showtime on food TV.

I am very glad that we have a TiVo, or a DVR at all, because it lets me skip over food commercials. Although, all weekend, my Cruchyroll account was playing the same Subway ad over and over and over again. Sometimes 5 times in a single 30 minute show. And you can’t skip those ads. It was enough to make a girl want to pay for the service just to make it stop. There’s only so many times you can see a Thanksgiving turkey sandwhich before you REALLY want a sub. And you can’t have a sub. Sometimes, it just makes me mad, like eating a chocolate bar in front of someone on a diet. I know you can’t always get the food you want, but damn it sometimes it would be nice to know you can have something!

I feel the same way about Food Network, like giving it a big middle finger. To watch Food Network is to be taunted with all of the food that you really really really really really want and not being able to have a single bite. Sure you can do the complex calculations needed to make the same gluteny gluten recipe gluten free, and we all have done it, but that doesn’t really address one of my main issues with Food Network and Food TV in general. No one addresses substitutions or allergies. Chiefs think about it, they have do in a restaurant, but the average home cook or food blogger only has to think about substitutions once or twice a year. So, people with allergies or food limitations, have to thing about how to make correct the recipe.

I think about this around this time of the year. Food Network does this emergency call in live special where viewers are allowed to ask their Thanksgiving cooking questions. It’s all part of their special 3 months of holiday programming. I’m fine with that. 3 years ago, all I thought of asking was about how to make a Cranberry Sauce without orange juice (my one really random food allergy). I figured that one out on my own (really good Cranberry pepper jelly), but I still feel like food TV is missing something. There’s shows on how to cook healthy. There’s shows on barbecue and and entire show about sandwiches. There’s shows of food science and cooking competitions, but no one cooks for the allergies.

Honestly, I don’t think there needs to be a whole allergy cooking show. I just want a month or maybe just a week. Just one gluten free week, maybe in May. There’s a whole level of education that could happen around what it means to be gluten free. How to keep a gluten free kitchen. Different gluten free grains and how to cook them. Heck, give Alton Brown a one hour Gluten Free Baking Special (please give Alton Brown a one hour gluten free baking special because it would be amazing!) Just give it some coverage.

May is Celiac Awareness month, and it would bring so much attention to the issues if we could get the Celitariat to band together, maybe start (dare I say it) a movement. It’s not hard. Below I have included a letter that you can copy and paste and paste into a word document. You can customize it however you like, or just use it whole cloth. That’s the first part. Not take it and go here. Submit a “question” to Food Network asking them why they don’t celebrate Celiac Awareness Month.

With that done, there is phase 2, and that is harassing enlisting the Food Network talent to join in. So go to their Twitter, Facebook, and personal website and spread the world. Share this post with them on facebook and twitter. Choose a dozen or so and spread the word. I mean it’s a good old fashioned letter writing campaign, and just with these new fangled social networking thing .

But the third and final part is the most important. We can’t really start a movement with the 15 people who read this (I’m totally realistic that we’re not reaching a lot of people here.) So, for this to get anywhere, we need you to share this post. Share it with your friends and family. Share it with your gluten free support group (and yes those exist) or your family members who have Celiac. We need all of them to take this up too. Mention this in a gluten free forum or on another gluten free blog. Tweet it. Reddit it (I’m not sure how Reddit works, but am going to say it works like that.) If you have a blog, re-blog it. Just share the letter and encourage people to participate.

And if you want to get really involved, go here and sign the petition that I put up on Change.org to see if we can make this happen.

So, here’s what you can do:

  1. Go to Food Network and post the following letter asking for a some gluten free programming in May for Celiac Awareness Month
  2. Go to some of the Food Network Talent’s Websites (below the letter), and see if they will also lobby for gluten free programming in May for Celiac Awareness Month.
  3. Go to Change.org and sing the petition asking for gluten free programming in May for Celiac Awareness Month
  4. Ask your friends and family to also do steps 1-4 of this process in hopes of getting gluten free programming in May of Celiac Awareness Month.

And if we can all do these 4 simple steps, we might be able to get the word out about Celian and Non-celiac Gluten Sensativity. Hopefully we can dispell some of the myths around the gluten free diet and maybe (once and for all) get across the difference between those that choose the gluten free life and those whom the gluten free life choose.

Dear Food Network,

Over the years you have provided a lot of top quality food programming and created a community around people who love food. You have millions of loyal viewers who come to you for advise and education when it comes to cookery. You hare raised a lot of awareness in regards to feeding the hungry and offer advice and assistance for people all over the nation. There is a very important issue that we would like to bring to your attention in hopes that you might give some focus to it in the future.

1 in every 33 people suffers from Celiac Disease and need to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons. Often times, friends and family do not know of understand how to support the special diet that people with Celiac need. Because a maximum amount of gluten containing materiel as small 3 crumbs of bread can make someone with celiac disease sick, it’s often difficult to cook for someone with the disease, meaning that people with celiacs will often choose to eat at home of only a few restaurants that they can eat at.

There is an opportunity to educate the public not only about celiac disease but gluten free cooking together. There are a plethora of alternative grains that can be explored from amaranth to quinoa along with the gluten free flour mixes and gluten free beers. This can expand the repertoire of the best home cooks.

Gluten free cooking is more than just substituting gluten free flour into recipes. There is a balance of careful alchemy to create the balance of starch and protein of wheat flours, and different mixes have application that they are best used for. Anyone that has ever tried to make gluten free food for their gluten free friends can tell you that there is more to baking or cooking gluten free than just buying some Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flout and substituting it in a regular recipe. The best way to address that is through education, and the best place for food education is Food Network.

We hope that you would consider  celebrating Celiac Awareness Month by having some of your host feature gluten free content, hosting a gluten free cooking week, or inviting some gluten free food bloggers as guests on their shows. There is so much good that it can do for the gluten free food world, and those of us who have Celiac Disease or Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Thank you for your time.

Food Network Stars (and how to contact them:

Ina Garten: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Bobby Flay: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Giada DeLaurentes: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Guy Fieri: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Ree Drummond: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Trisha Yearwood: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Valerie Bertinelli: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Sunny Anderson: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Aarti Sequeira:    Facebook   Twitter

Geffory Zakerian: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Alton Brown: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Ted Allen: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Jeff Mauro: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Marcella Valladolid: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Katie Lee: Website    Facebook   Twitter

Tyler Florence: Webstie   Twitter

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Don’t be a food Sherpa.

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No this isn’t a comment on the Presidential Election. I have my thoughts on that, but I’ll keep those to myself. It was my last few weeks, so I apologize for not blogging during that time. Halloween night, we found ourselves sitting in a hotel room with our cats not certain where we were going to be living for the next week. We had gotten a message from the people who were buying our house saying that they were going to need another couple of days before we could close the sale. We were supposed to be closing on the sale of our house the next day. So, that was fun. After a week of stress, we only moved into our new house one day late because we have an amazing Real Estate team. The next Monday we were finishing all of the moving.

If you’re familiar with Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, there’s some very basic things you need to feel fulfilled. I was missing thingsmaslow on the lower rungs of the pyramid. We had shelter, but not really a home. We weren’t getting sleepy or a place to belong. But the husband and I had each other and our cats and a U-Haul full of everything that we owned. We were really worried about everything disappearing from the U-Haul or what would happen if U-Haul told us they needed the truck back. We were worried that out house would fall through and I wouldn’t have a place to live. We were worried about work and having to take more time off so we could move. It was literally the worst.

It was an interesting week in the hotel. We went to an extended stay because there’s only so much Chipotle and Red Robin a person can eat, plus they would let us keep the cats with us. It had a fridge and a small kitchen, so we could cook. We had to pack a lot of our food in the U-Haul, but I made sure that we had enough to eat and cook. We also had to bring all of our frozen food and refrigerator foods with us in a couple of coolers and stick them in the room’s fridge, because there’s no way I’m buying fresh hoisin sauce. That’s stuff if expensive.

So, I was a Food Sherpa, out of necessity not out of choice. Still I over packed the dry good too, but not by much. I’m still trying to figure out the balance there. In in this instance, I needed to plan  for as many meals as I could. I had quick lunches and dinners that we could make with 2 burners, a pot, and a frying pan. I also brought along our electric kettle, a handful of seasoning, and a few other kitchen odds and ends. It made a really not fun situation feel a little bit like home.

My first journey as a celiac was a trip to my sister’s house with a to visit our grandparents. It’s about a 4 hour drive (in traffic) from Seattle to her house south of Salem, OR. She had been chatting with me all week about what she might need to do, and how to prep for my stay. I brought along a bunch of food, because from her house we had a 2 hours to the grandparents and back. I wanted to make sure I had road snacks and lunch stuff.

I kind of over packed. Well I really over packed. I brought along bars and crackers and785884 laughing cow cheese (which I just happened to have around the house), dried fruit, pop corn, more pop corn, and more pop corn (a girl has to be prepared.) Honestly, I ate crackers and cheese, a bar, and a lot of pop corn (have I mentioned before that I like popcorn?) I brought back almost as much food as I left with. Usually, when I do the road tripping, it’s a bad of chips and something to drink. There is always that thought of, if I really need something I can stop. I have gone to conventions with coolers full of food for 3-4 days of being away from home for 3 people. I brought about half of that for just me.

I will tell you this, when you go on a trip, have a meal plan. I know it’s one more thing to think about when you packing, but that meal plan will save you. Know what you’re going to have for breakfasts. Know what you’re going to need to pick up there (there’s no way I’m ever taking yogurt on a plane.) And keep it simple. If you can get away with one breakfast item for all of the days, do it. When you travel, space is important, even if your driving, so make sure you make the most of it. Honestly, I don’t think I’m ever going to choose to have a box of GF cookies over an extra pair of jeans.

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Popcorn would be another story, but that can go in the carry on. You need something to munch on the plane.

Getting that that holiday season is coming up, and that is the time that everyone goes a visiting, think about this. What can’t get where I’m going? What do I need to get there? What meals are the most important to eat on my own? Make a list your meals and what you’re going to need to prep them. Then get just the basics. Think about it like Blue Apron but you do it yourself, and for travel. Once you have your meal plan, go with it. Just take it and run with it. That’s the best thing that you could do for yourself.

Thanksgiving in next week, that means baking. I suspect that I will have 2 double blog posts next week. One about baking bread in my new oven (it shows up on Monday I’m so excited) and one about those two cornerstones of holiday prep  Food Network and Pinterest. Stayed tuned. Also, I’m actually going to be traveling next month for Christmas down to my native Portland (I know such a schlep), so I’ll make sure to describe holidays with my family to you in excruciating detail.

I have one more shout out. I just found out that my father’s older brother Larry, just was diagnosed with Celiac. He’s in his late 50’s and having to start out on our journey. I hope him all of the best while he starts down this wonderful adventure of being gluten free! Welcome to the Celiatariat, Larry! You’re in good company!