A running partner once told me during Marathon training my pace picks up when I talk about celiac disease — that’s a good thing. I will tell you if I was running during what happened to me on Wednesday I would get a personal record. 11 gluten-free bloggers from across the country, dozens of General Mills employees and contractors and one topic: all things gluten-free.
A selection of bloggers were invited to come to General Mills’ headquarters on Wednesday, November 3rd to discuss the gluten-free community and provide insight into our major concerns when it comes to living a gluten-free life. Besides us, on hand were experts Danna Korn, gluten-free author and speaker, and Carol McCarthy Shilson, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
General Mills said recent research shows more people trust bloggers on reviews more than a company sales sheet or advertisement. Which is why they turned to us so they could better understand gluten-free folks and our needs and wants in gluten-free products. And yes– they got an ear-full.
Meeting of the Gluten-Free Minds
We were escorted from the Lobby down to a meeting room just off the Betty Crocker Portrait Kitchen. That’s where we learned more about each other and eventually talked about trends that we’re finding in the gluten-free marketplace. We discussed availability of gluten-free food, social media outreach and support, but also a few big ones.
The big concern was contamination and/or safety of some gluten-free food: basically people worry that gluten-free foods– may not be so free of gluten. Case in point came from Shirley who has GlutenFreeEasily.com and echoed by Linda Etherton a.k.a. the Gluten Free Homemaker, that there is a portion of the gluten-free community who reacts when they eat General Mills gluten-free products. I do believe that while General Mills is likely getting emails about this issue, they may not have expected this to be so in their face — so early in this meeting.
But it’s an issue that needs to be fixed. Shirley asked if they would be using the Gluten-Free Certification Organization to ensure the gluten-free status of these new General Mills products. So far they are not. But by the end of the day most of the General Mills employees realized there is a big trust issue that is involved with having a gluten-free product. Burn us once — and we’re done.
Gluten-Free Education and Awareness
It is really frustrating for so many us to be preaching the important information of diagnosis, symptoms, testing, the gluten-free diet, and more, but only to have too many medical professionals thinking a celiac diagnosis is ridiculous. We heard the stories again today— tales of years going by of people being sickly from celiac disease — that no one would diagnose! But for General Mills to assist in helping us raise awareness for celiac– in both the medical fields and public arenas would be great!
$6 for a loaf of bread 1/3 the size of a traditional loaf of bread. Or — how about a recent price check at CobornsDelivers.com showing $3.49 for 40 ounces of Bisquick, but $4.99 for 16 ounces of Gluten-Free Bisquick (fyi, that’s $.08/oz. compared to $.31/oz. – nearly a four-fold difference.)
Need I say more?
Betty Crocker Portrait Kitchen
After several sessions where we hashed out these big issues a few times(and several smaller issues) , we moved on to the Betty Crocker Portrait Kitchen, where we had time to do some baking. I worked with Amanda Carlisle with www.afewshortcuts.com and Shelley Gannon (whose husband Rich Gannon is a former NFL QB – their daughter Danielle has celiac disease) and we made gluten-free snickerdoodles! The recipe will be posted next month on Liveglutenfreely.com. They were super good.
The only problem with doing this in the Betty Crocker Portrait Kitchen is not gluten-free. So when we saw the wooden utensils out there for baking— we got concerned. Wood often harbors gluten—another way to say it is they never seem to really get clean. Anyway, when we saw a wooden rolling pin and many wooden spoons, most bloggers agreed they couldn’t risk the possible cross-contamination to taste the goodies. Again more reality for General Mills about living a gluten-free life.
It was a big day! I’m exhausted (at least I didn’t have to travel much). But overall, the event was truly enlightening and it was quite fun meeting other bloggers that were fighting for the same cause– but we all covered different areas. That was so cool.
Please check out the bloggers listed above plus the others who were in attendance: Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures, Hey That Tastes Good, The Crispy Cook, Gluten Free Taste of Home, Hold the Gluten and Beyond Rice Cakes.
Watch for more posts coming on this experience soon.