This blog contains documented sitings of mainstream Gluten-Free products.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why "Gluten-Free Brands"?

This is a good question.
Any thorough search for gluten-free products or even a listing of gluten-free products (i.e., products that are "safe" for people with Celiac disease) will turn up several good candidates. So, why am I putting energy into this effort here?
Well if one looks closely and broadly at the candidates turned up in such a search for Gluten-Free products and/or information about Gluten-Free products, one will probably find one or more of the following characteristics:
  1. If it is a list of products, it might have a price. This is NOT a criticism; just a fact.
  2. If it is a list of products, it might be undocumented and contain outdated or even false or unintentionally misleading information.
  3. If it is a list of products, such as common grocery brands that are "Gluten-Free" it tends to be concentrated in a given area of tastes and also non-exhaustive. This is much like the current state of the list I am preparing.
  4. If it is a specialty product with a "Gluten-Free" label, it might cost as much as three times the price of its common high quality grocery counter-part -- and this does not include the shipping costs.

First of all, I need to say that I am grateful for all of the efforts that went into producing all that would fit into any of the four categories above. The work of their creators' is very important and has made a significant positive impact on my life as well as the lives of many others.

What makes my list different?

The list I am gradually populating on is different from all four of those noted above in that I hope to have eventually created a list that effectively addresses each of the four problems noted therein.

This list should do so by reflecting these four corresponding virtues:

  1. This list is FREE to all who are able to access it.
  2. All products included on this list will be empirically documented as "Gluten-Free", based on either a product labelling statement or a statement directly from the manufacturer.
  3. This list will hopefully eventually be exhaustive and very broad to cover a wide variety of tastes, styles, cuisines and cultures.
  4. This will be a list of otherwise, standard-to-high-quality grocery products that are sold within the price range of their gluten-contaminated counterparts.

These virtues reflect my personal and professional values (i.e., self-determination, equal access, integrity, comprehensiveness, and fairness)that:

  1. Everyone who needs and wants information about Gluten-Free products should have equal access to it. At this point, I can only serve the purpose of helping make this happen on the Internet, but I am keenly aware of the digital divide and would like to explore ways to insure people without Internet access can also get such information without being delayed by monetary barrier.
  2. Integrity depends on accuracy and so this list will require empirical proof prior to inclusion.
  3. Comprehensiveness will be facilitated with each new item added.
  4. Fairness in the market place is especially important for people who have EXTRA health concerns. This is particularly applicable to Celiac Disease, as market abuse not only costs these people immediate comfort but it also effects the quality of their entire lives as well as the lives of those around them. Thus, I see no virtue in promoting or supporting over-priced specialty "gluten-free" products when the market has plenty of safe products that are already available, yet still sort of hidden due to pre-innovation formula and labelling practices.

This is NOT intended to be a political statement or even a criticism. But rather, this is my attempt at helping to solve the enormous problem that many people with Celiac Disease and Gluten-Sensitivity are likely to face as often as three times per day as they try and figure out what they can eat. And for many, this task it not as difficult because they can afford specialty products or they have access to a wide variety of "health-food stores" which may drive the prices down a little.

But my guess is that many many more (if not a majority) of people with Celiac disease are not quite as financially comfortable and could use a dependable and free listing of common Gluten-Free product brands.

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