[personal profile] literally
 Or, why it's good to have more gluten-free products available for everyone.

 I'm not vegetarian, much less vegan. But there are are some cosmetics out there that are naturally vegetarian or vegan, because the owner of the company either has that lifestyle or wants to appeal to at least try to broaden their market. Now I never heard of anyone  asking, hey this liptstick is vegan and you're not, why are you buying it and/or how this isn't socially responsible. But I do see this kind of bullshit about the existence gluten-free items. I can't even begin to get in to how hypocritical this this mindset is, especially when it comes to food allergies and intolerances. One does not, after all, choose to have something such as Celiac, but one can choose to be vegan. Where are the complaints of people about the plethora of vegan products on the market, which are much more abundant than gluten free? I have yet to see any. But some people do some extra things in order to appeal to the vegan/vegetarian part of the market in order to expand market share, but I don't see anyone complaining about that even though there is a lack of evidence that we evolved to live on such a diet.

 Anyway, when many people in the supermarket or drugstore or cosmetics counter or just shopping online purchasing stuff, they are often, just like people with vegetarian friends or family, not just purchasing products for themselves, but for other people. A parent isn't only buying bread for themselves, and if they have a kid with Celiac, gluten-free bread or bread mix may be bought instead of the loaf of usual bread. Same with potato chips, and you have no idea how I love the fact that Kettle Chips are now gluten-free. There is nothing quacky about a company having a product that is naturally gluten-free in the first place taking extra precautions to avoid cross contamination and advertising their product is, but this is to some people. But things like this do help broaden the market, not just for individual buyers.

 And the reason you don't just want people on gluten-free or other specialized diets buying your product is because the market only for specific people isn't going to make you much money. Sure, it's wrong to promote the stuff as a cure all for everything, but most gluten-free products aren't-though I have seen a lot of interesting claims about soy as a miracle food escape without notice in far too much of the skeptic community. Anyway. You have to have broader appeal, because market research is so important, because you want a good business plan, because you want that business loan, because you want to actually do a lot more than break even. 

 Most people who buy vegetarian or vegan products aren't even vegetarian, hell I still used to still buy things like soy and gluten-based burger substitutes for years after I stopped being vegetarian. But I never seen any complaints about people allegedly being ripped off by vegetarian products. Vegetarian products appeal to a larger market than just vegetarians, coconut oil with absolutely no contact with gluten or animal particles expands the market appeal. This isn't about hype, but business and market reality. Those complaining about the plethora of gluten-free products out there are ignorant hypocrites.

Pre-ETA: I can't help but be reminded of the time in which I saw an inane thread in Marion Nestle's Food Politics site in which a commenter didn't understand why gluten-free pet food is on the market now. As though cats and dogs evolved to eat that in the first place, and as though no one with problems with gluten would ever have a problem with touching it.
[personal profile] literally
 This podcast is full of fail, but despite this, I will agree with him on something, claiming a gluten free diet will cure autism or obesity is full of bull, this is not a miracle diet. However...

 This is a case in which a skeptic has obviously not been aware of that many people with people with gluten allergies or food intolerance (or is aware of the allergy and food intolerance community in general), and despite his claim to be knowledgeable about the subject, sensitivities to gluten do exist outside of wheat allergies, ataxia, and Celiac disease. In fact he ignores the fact even despite problems with access to healthcare in the US health care system, diagnosises of Celiac, wheat and gluten allergies have been on the rise, and that the prevalence of these problems have been long underdiagnosed and under estimated, in fact issues with wheat and gluten are now being linked to IBS.

 I'm also puzzled by his inability to understand that meat eaters aren't the only ones avoiding gluten, it's not like being vegetarian protects you from Celiac, wheat or gluten allergies or gluten intolerance. But to him, if you're in to vegetarianism, gluten protein is a great choice, and he also sounds like one of those people who believes nearly all protein molecules are like when metabolized and digested. I may not be an expert in biology, but I do know that even very small biochemical differences can lead to very different effects in outcome (the omega 3's verses 6's are a great example), and this is especially true when comparing plant protein to animal protein.

 And then there is the historic argument, he shows his ignorance there too, there is nothing healthy about gluten grains at all, despite my annoyances with some of the quacks who promote the gluten-free diet, because unlike the anti-dairy people (many if not most of them in the animal rights and vegan community, I've noticed) there is meat in the anti-grain arguments. The ancient Egyptians are an extreme example but a noteworthy one, their diet was very high in wheat and gluten products, and look at the state of their skeletons and lifespan. The fact that this was the ancient world, and even to an extent, bronze age isn't enough of an explanation here, I have read about the examination of ancient skeletons in Eastern Europe in (albeit a flawed book on some of the mythological front) The Early Slavs by PM Barford, where in surprisingly good shape, some people living up to their 60's. Their diet? Certainly not nearly as grain based, with a lot more meat, fats, and dairy products. I'd go in to more detail, but I don't have the time.

 He is right in some ways, this is not an easy diet. But it is getting easier thanks to the growth and plethora of gluten free options out there, and I'm annoyed when people complain about how people who don't have allergies or food sensitivities buy things that aren't marketed to them, as though none of them share things with friends or family, or if it just happens to taste good. I'm also annoyed that this growth in gluten-free products is implied to be solely a health food thing, since even people with allergies and food intolerances need to be able to eat, shouldn't this be a good thing? Does he really not understand that people with medical conditions such as this really need and benefit from nutritional accommodation in order to live and enjoy life?

 More when I have the stomach to listen to again. And unlike him, I'll try to get more references.

Edited to add: I am also bothered by how the host Brian Dunning insinuates that if you just take the right medications, you don't have to worry too much about your allergies. Well I've known people with severe allergies where even meds can't help them from getting extremely sick, if not outright insane or even worse, dead, by exposure to the wrong protein particles. This is very dangerous misinformation, but sadly not surprising, considering how misinformation on allergies and food intolerance is out there, and labeling yourself as a skeptic doesn't make you an expert on anything.

 To make it clear-meds for allergies are not a cure, they're to lesson damage after contact, not a guarantee that you can live worry-free. God I hope he doesn't think it's also acceptable to put anyone with allergies to bee stings in a garden full of bees simply because he or she has access to meds for it.

ETA 2: How could I forget? The occurrence of Celiac in the general population that we know is currently 1:133, Dunning's estimates are misleadingly conservative, to put it mildly.

ETA 3: A good rebuttal that helps me Do The Research.

ETA 4: The hypocrisy is unbelievable, Brian Dunning isn't without products to sell either. I also find it funny how he's intimidated by genuine scientific studies and big words.


Very Gluten Free

November 2013

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