Gluten-Free Adventures at Expo West…and an Ode to Bloggers
Eight years ago, I started the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to make “gluten-free” a household word. Our goal was to raise awareness of celiac disease so we could have a voice: increase availability, affordability, safety, tasty and understanding… and eventually fund research.
Well, the market for gluten-free foods has soared. We are currently a $2.64 billion industry, and the marketplace is expected to double in the next 4 years. 15% of all consumers are looking for gluten-free foods, and at Expo West, gluten-free labels were EVERYWHERE!
On the convention floor, I stood in amazement of the rows of gluten-free products. I didn’t know which way to turn. To the right for Rudi’s great gluten-free grilled cheese and chicken sandwiches; to the left to Glutenfreeda’s fabulous new Pizza Wraps; down another aisle to Kettle Cuisine’s unbelievable Thai Curry Chicken Soup. Haine Celestial’s booth was piled high with sections of gluten-free products. I even found a new meal replacement protein drink called Svelte. It was heaven on earth.
All three gluten-free presentations were standing room only. When I stepped down from the podium, people asked questions for a ½ hour. They even followed me out the door.
At one point in the day, I was speaking with Anne Whalen, editor of Gluten Free Living, and renowned dietitian Shelley Case. We all agreed: Our time has come! We have all dreamt of this day, and it’s finally here.
Of course, this couldn’t have happened without the help of a very dedicated group: the bloggers. Thanks to their daily posts, rapid-fire tweets and enticing recipes, gluten-free has nestled into solid ground online and in stores.
So, to the blogging community: Thank you for making a difference for all of us. Thank you for being such passionate advocates; we now have a voice! We can and are bringing about change. Awareness and interest have driven the growth of gluten-free products, making our lives and the lives of others better.
Basically, you all rock! And I especially enjoyed spending time with you over the past couple weeks.
(Stay tuned to Celiac Central: Bits & Bites. These fantastic celiac and gluten-free bloggers will be making an appearance in May!)
Entry filed under: Alice. Tags: alice, baking, celiac disease, dietary needs, education, events, family, food photos, gluten-free, NFCA in the wild, Programs, social media, spreading awareness, take action.