Gluten-Free Education Fair at Whole Foods
I wasn’t thrilled when I woke up to 3 inches of snow and slush last Saturday morning. I was expected at Whole Foods on the Upper West Side of New York City by noon-ish, and the drive from Philly just got a lot more treacherous.
But, as Nancy would say, “Press on!” And so I did. Through the slush. Past the snow plows. Around the cars parked snuggly in their spots.
I was headed to Whole Foods for the Gluten-Free Education Fair, an afternoon event that capped off a week’s worth of gluten-free samplings and specials. The Fair was organized by Erin Smith, one of our top blogger friends and organizer of the NYC Celiac Disease Meetup Group, so I couldn’t let her down.
Well – no surprise here – I made it. And despite the unsightly weather, we had a good turnout. NFCA’s table was placed right at the door, a chilly but prime spot for grabbing customers as they entered. Best of all, I was sandwiched between cookbook author Annalise Roberts and the team from Dr. Schar USA, both of whom brought gluten-free samples. As we all know, everyone loves free samples, and while the customers waited in line, I talked to them about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
For the most part, everyone had heard about the gluten-free diet (though I did get a few “So, what is gluten?” inquiries). Many customers had also heard of celiac disease, and those who hadn’t were astonished to learn how many symptoms it manifested. There were customers who had celiac disease, others who had a friend with gluten sensitivity, and, of course, there were the few that said “Oh, I kind of eat gluten-free. You know, it’s just healthier.”
The Gluten-Free Education Fair truly showed the breadth of people who are eating gluten-free, and how comfortable they are with the diet. A man diagnosed celiac for 10 years told me how much easier it’s gotten. A woman with a different autoimmune disease said she’s trying a gluten-free diet to see if it helps her symptoms. An entire family went gluten-free on behalf of one celiac child, and they’re still discovering new foods.
One customer in particular had been diagnosed with celiac less than 1 year ago. She tried each sample and collected information like a kid in a candy store. If there were an award for “Most Stoked About a Gluten-Free Cracker,” she would win it.
Fortunately for her, there were plenty more foods to try. Glow Gluten Free and Kettle Cuisine, two of NFCA’s GREAT Business Association members, were handing out samples in the store aisles. Posh Pop Bake Shop and Free Bread, Inc. were also among the vendors at the fair.
A special thank you to Erin and Whole Foods for organizing this great event. We hope this is the first of many!