Gluten Free and Politics

by | G+ Amy Leger

A recent article from HumanEvents.com appears to bring politics and the gluten free world together.  Its title, Why liberals get a way with the ‘gluten-free scheme’ and conservatives do not.  I have to admit I have never wondered about this.

Author Teresa Mull writes:

“Celiac researchers say that ‘Claims [about gluten-free diets] seem to increase daily, with no adequate scientific support to back them up.’

‘No adequate support to back them up.’

What else does this sound like? ‘Climate change,’ ‘the war on women,’ and opposition to the Keystone Pipeline?

Presactly. And the left is winning on all of these issues because they yell louder and oftener. It doesn’t matter if what they say is backed up by facts, because if it did, they’d never make it off the ground.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

I had to sit on this article for a while. To digest and not necessarily give a knee-jerk reaction.

Gluten Free and Politics Questions

Here are the questions that continue to run through my mind:

1.  Does the writer only want people with celiac or a gluten sensitivity to talk about living gluten free?  And no one else who has done the gluten free diet?

2. Is the writer complaining more about the media’s treatment of gluten free ala “can you lose weight by going gluten free?”

If so, I would actually agree that the accuracy in these stories is not always spot on.  I am not a gluten-free fad diet promoter and most medical experts will tell you that it is not healthy for someone who doesn’t need it medically (as cited in the article).  But it is a free country and people can buy and eat whatever they want: gluten free, GMO free, sugar free….

3. Is it not a gluten free issue but rather a political question — is she rallying conservatives to match the rhetoric of the democrats?

4. Is she calling out democrats to back up their emotional claims with facts and only using gluten free as the topic with which to do it?

All of these topics are up for discussion here.  The article may have to be left up to interpretation, since I did try reaching out to HumanEvents.com for an interview with the author and have not heard anything back.

Readers on The Savvy Celiac Facebook page had a lot to say about the article:

“This article makes me ill. I’m not good at putting into word why, but it’s wrong for so many reasons. Denying global change and healthy diet all in one? Anyone who tries to scare people from supporting the GF trend scares me because my son does have celiac. I know they make the exception but I don’t want to see our food choices and better labels go away. Why does it anger her enough to even bother writing this hate piece?” – Christa

“Whoa this person just reached into her bag of crazy and pulled out this article.” – Erica Dermer, Celiac and the Beast

“This article is written for its audience – not unlike other political websites are written for theirs…For food companies it is time to make hay as the sun is shining. The quote [in the article] ‘Fads are invented to make somebody a quick buck,’ is true. What happens to our choices when Unilever decides that they do not turn enough products to make a profit…. I will be the first person to say I have taken advantage of the boom in products to make eating more enjoyable. To discount the message because the writer is a political hack is short sighted on our part as well. It is not far fetched to think that once the growth of the GF market slows, we may lose many of our options.” -David

History of Gluten Free in Politics

Gluten free (and other food allergies)  has a history of being a political topic. It has legitimately held a spot at the table in Washington with the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act which became law in 2004.

In fact when I interviewed Congresswoman Nita Lowey, (D-NY and author of FALCPA) last year for Gluten-Free Living Magazine, she said it took five years to make that bill a law.  “I introduced it in 1999. It became law in 2004 and I couldn’t get one republican to sign on to the bill and then it passed a voice vote. In those five years there was a real seat change and it was very thrilling to me because it started as a result of parents, friends coming to me and saying you’ve got to do something about this.”

Of course even after it eventually passed, it took another 9 years to get the gluten-free labeling rule completed by the FDA (it goes into effect August 5, 2014).  Just a few weeks before the FDA gluten free labeling rule came out, Rep. Lowey said she kept working to make sure this rule happened. “I’ve learned that there are many pressures put on government and if you want something done you just have to keep your pressure, my pressure on.”

Lowey currently has the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act which is in committee. You can follow its progress on GovTrack.us.

People with celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or another reason for needing a gluten free diet, are understandably wildly passionate about their lifestyle.  And, on the other hand, not much brings out more passion in discussion like politics.  So when you pair the two together you might just be in for a wild ride.  What do you think about this topic?  Share in the comments below.

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