Food Allergy Critical Mass Creates Commerce

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The other night I was out to dinner with a friend who works for Atlanta Parent, having just briefed my waiter on the table’s allergy and intolerance restrictions (gluten =wife, Soy= me, MSG= both of us) and joked that they should really do a Top Chef “allergy edition” if they wanted to really be on trend and do something challenging. The topic of conversation quickly turned to how the kids she deals with at work deal with allergy free lunch times.

I kid but seriously – this allergy thing has become quite a “thing” here in the U.S. It would appear that the earth has rebelled to keep us from eating it’s spoils by making our bodies reject them. From wheat / gluten to nuts , dairy, soybeans and beyond.

You used to be lucky not to have to bake your own bread or eat all your food made at home from scratch if you had these “issues”. Now not only are there whole grocery aisles dedicated to gluten free baked goods, but there are apparently now full scale retail operations (and even summer camps!) dedicated to serving this increasing minority.

It makes me wonder how long until this consumer subculture starts influencing the mainstream. It would stand to reason, for example, that if one person in a family has restrictions it would eventually just get easier to only do shopping once and get the thing that doesn’t have the allergen for everyone! Or perhaps the more health conscious will start opting for a “less is more” philosophy and trend toward buying the allergen free foods because they also have less of the rest of the bad stuff.

In any case it will be one trend I keep my anthropological eye one…until I grow intolerant of it, anyhow. Here’s hoping my readers don’t become allergic to my bad puns.

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