Unless you’ve been living far away from civilization, you’ve probably noticed a trend of folks avoiding grains or more specifically, gluten. While we can debate the merits or harmful effects of gluten/grain consumption, one thing is certain, there are those that simply can’t eat gluten. Who are these people? Well, two of them are my friends; a mother and daughter, who for years suffered from unexplained stomach, digestive, and other “IBS” systems. Last year, they were finally tested and and low and behold, were diagnosed with celiac disease. For those of you who may not be aware, here is what celiac disease is:
Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. What does this mean? Essentially the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten…Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and cancer.
- National Foundation for Celiac Awareness
Um, I don’t know about you, but the thought of a bagel causing my body to “punch itself” sounds downright miserable. My friend on the other hand, is feeling better than she has in years. Even though it is difficult finding her way through living a life and raising her daughter without gluten (aka pasta, beer, bread, pastries, cookies, cake and essentially every other addictively delicious carb), finding an explanation for all her intestinal issues is such a relief. Note that people with celiac cannot tolerate any gluten. Even a few crumbs can have an effect and trigger an internal attack.
I have a family member who is also gluten-free. He doesn’t have celiac disease, but notices a marked difference when he eats gluten and when he doesn’t. He’s always been prone to having nose-bleeds and won’t have one for months, accidentally eats some gluten and voila, his nose starts dripping. He has chosen to skip the gluten completely and since he visits regularly, I’ve gotten used to checking packaging for hidden gluten.
Apparently, I’m not there quite yet. We needed some more garlic salt and picked up this jar at Whole Foods. It is their store brand, 365. On the label is says “Garlic Salt,” which to me, should be mean garlic and salt. One would think it would be so simple (remember my Lawry’s Garlic Powder post awhile back? What is it with this seasoning!). Here is the actual ingredient list on the Whole Foods 365 Garlic Salt jar:
Ingredients: sea salt, garlic, breadcrumbs (unbleached wheat flour, calcium carbonate, salt, leavening [ammonium bicarbonate]), onion, silicon dioxide (to prevent caking), parsley.
Sea salt – check. Garlic – check. Breadcrumbs – check…wait, what the heck? Why oh why would there be breadcrumbs in garlic salt? The only reason I can think of is it is cheap. It’s a filler, one that makes this 6oz jar look like a great value. Except, I’m not really getting garlic salt, it’s more like I’m buying ground-up garlic bread. While it irks me that I’m getting bread in my seasoning, it makes me more annoyed that people like my brother and especially people like my dear friend and her daughter, could be eating gluten without realizing it due to sneaky practices like this. The Whole Foods garlic salt is only one example of hundreds of “hidden” gluten sources in packaged foods. This reminds me yet again, that the only true way to know what you are eating is to make it from scratch, grow it from seed, and only buy from farmers/vendors/sources you trust and always, always read the label.
Quick Tip: Buy plain garlic powder (be sure to check the label!) and mix in your own sea salt to make basic garlic salt.
Unhealthy additives find our way into almost every imaginable food. Last week, my husband purchased this spice jar of garlic powder for a recipe without looking at the ingredient list (you’d think I’d have him trained better considering he lives with me!). I happened to take a peek and this is what I saw:
INGREDIENTS: GARLIC, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL (COTTONSEED, SOYBEAN), PARSLEY.
So they’ve basically taken something as simple as powdered garlic and added unnecessary and harmful trans fats. Remember, ingredients are listed in order of weight, so this means there is more hydrogenated oil in this jar than parsley. Not quite what I had in mind for dinner.
Moral of this story? Never assume something simple will be free from additives and preservatives. There are many other brands which only contain garlic and parsley, so read the label and shop smart!