UPDATED (5/5/11): The cake was built, and the FDA attended and released a statement. Please click here for the article, and for cake pictures.THANK YOU. so very very much.
Good morning! (or afternoon!)
I had the extreme pleasure of speaking and cooking this past weekend at the Gluten Free/Allergen Free Expo in Chicago. I made Carnitas and Country Captain Chicken (sans shrimp) for a group of wonderful people--many of whom are newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease is an intolerance to gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
We are a gluten free family. Many (maybe even most?) of my online and cookbook readers are NOT gluten free. In fact, I get an email pretty much daily from people who are unaware that my recipes are gluten free until they find out that either they (or a family member) needs to steer clear of gluten and they realize what my little notes mean.
My six year old has Celiac. I don't write about it very often, because it's kind of a heavy subject, and I try to keep things light and upbeat here. But this is something that is a BIG PART of my life, and the lives of my family members.
My middle child was diagnosed with Celiac when she was 22 months old. She began vomiting sporadically, and continued to do so for about six months. We had recently moved back to the SF Bay Area, and I needed to go back to work. I was lucky enough to find a job teaching preschool where the kids (we had two at the time) could be with me.
But my little one didn't handle it well. She began getting sick, which I brushed off as her getting used to a childcare setting, and the germs (on a good day, I cut myself slack about this. on a bad day, I crumple in a heap and blame myself for her being sick. repeatedly.).
Fast forward to today, and she is perfect. The second our family went gluten free, she stopped vomiting. In fact, her immune system is now so strong that when a cold or flu goes through our home, she doesn't get it. She's strong, healthy, and a fantastic gymnast and student.
I don't want her diet to define who she is. I want that to just be a tiny piece of who she is. That's why I try my hardest to make sure that she has the same (if not better) food on hand for all of life's occasions. School parties. Girl Scout events. The soccer team pizza party. Birthdays. Sleep overs.
So why am I telling you all this?
Because I'd like your help.
There is a grassroots effort to get the FDA to regulate the labeling laws for gluten free products.
As of right now, there are no laws in place stating how many parts per million of gluten molecules can be present in food that has been labeled "gluten free."
There are no laws in place on how the food is handled, or a mandate to have a dedicated gluten free facility when packaging gluten free food.
There are no laws instructing restaurants how to properly prepare and serve food in restaurants that serve and advertise gluten free food.
We'd (I'd) like that changed.
I have friends that can't eat packaged gluten free food. They get sick.
They get sick because the tiny bit of minute gluten left lurking in the food due to the manufacturing process is enough to set off a reaction.
That is not okay.
I have friends who have been hospitalized after eating at restaurants that ADVERTISE gluten free food.
That is not okay.
Gluten Free food should not be a fad. This is not a marketing ploy, or a way to "get in" on the next big food thing. This isn't the new vegan, or the new low-carb. Manufacturers should not be able to cash in on the "next big thing" in food without realizing that this is a life-or-death decision for MOST who have to strictly adhere to a gluten free diet.
Everyone should have safe food to eat.
If you can, I would greatly appreciate you taking the time to sign the online petition that will be presented to the FDA asking for proper regulation.
You do not need to give your home address, phone number, or other personal information. All that is asked is for your name and email address.
Please help spread the word.
Click here to sign the petition. The website is 1in133.org and tomorrow, May 4, there are a bunch of people assembling in Washington DC to prepare the world's largest gluten free cake in an effort to help draw awareness to the campaign.
I'm not going to be in DC. My girls need me home, but I will certainly do my part to help however I can. You can help, too.
thank you for sticking around, and for your support, kindness, and understanding. I'll be back in a bit with your regularly scheduled crockpot recipe.