Gluten-Free: Surging? Peaking? Declining?

Paleo Retiree writes:

Back when I worked for a major media outlet, we staffers would sometimes joke that there was no better guarantee that a trend had gone past its peak and begun its decline than being chosen by our magazine for coverage. Spotted at the newsstand the other day:

gluten_free_for_posting01And spotted while walking around downtown NYC:


Speaking of trends …


What’s with the preoccupation with “eating clean”? What’s even meant by “eating clean”?


About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
This entry was posted in Food and health, Media, The Good Life, Trends and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Gluten-Free: Surging? Peaking? Declining?

  1. Fenster says:

    The ever-hip seitan sold at Whole Foods is just gluten and water.


  2. Marc Pisco says:

    “Eat Clean” sounds like they’re talking about purity. “Living Without”, lol.

    Food purity is symbolic purity. Walmart’s donations to food banks are “toxic” — they’re IMPURE.

    The punch line is that we seem to know we’re in desperate need of purification, but we’re left guessing about what the impurities ARE. Maybe paleo is pure, maybe vegan — we just can’t be certain.

    But we sure know that impurities of some kind must have gotten through the perimeter. Because we’re miserable and neurotic and we feel like s#!t.


    • LOL, nicely put.


    • Callowman says:

      There’s a lot of free-floating desire for purity out there for marketers to tap into. Recently I’ve seen a lot of ads in the underground for various new oddball juice mixes, which suggests that the juicing fad is going wide and thus, paradoxically, losing its status as a purity marker.

      nydwracu niþgrim had an insightful post on purity on the left a couple months ago.


  3. Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

    Some guy preached at me about gluten while I was stuck in the airport with him the other week. I mentioned the paleo diet to him, and he said, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to try THAT.”


    • Hilarious. Life today. Still, at least he’d heard about the Paleo thang. Did he indicate why he wouldn’t want to try it? Too meat-centric, I’d bet.


      • Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

        The gist was that he’d seen a show or read a news story about it and thought it was a sham. He was a SWPL school teacher.


  4. peterike says:

    My favorite is when you see “gluten free” on things that have obviously nothing to do with gluten. Like “gluten free” on a can of peaches or a package of bacon. Wow, no kidding!! “Honey, I can have these peaches because they’re gluten free.”


    • It’s the new version of “fat free!”


    • Terri says:

      The reason they do that is because there are so many additives in products that you would never expect to contain gluten but do because of an additive (Potato chips – seasonings often include maltodextrin, a source of gluten is a good example. There was even a yogurt I came across once that was using some odd barley extract – completely unexpected).


  5. Gareth says:

    When I was in my early 20’s I was a food Nazi, strict vegetarian, colon cleansing, scolding everyone about what they ate and should and should not eat on and on. I was absolutely miserable and hungry all the time. Ridiculous. You take this kind of thing to it’s extreme and you’ll realize you are ruining your life and thus, snap out of it. Unfortunately many folks do not, food neurosis is serious and can be deadly. Just eat. Eat a variety of whatever as your heart desires and moderate your intake, you’ll be happy and healthy and your friends and family will love being around you because you are so at ease with food.

    The no-gluten fad is more insane do-gooder politics which is rife in the US right now and the world in general I assume. It looks like it’s starting to have run it’s course:


    • The prissy-political element is pretty fascinating in these fads. That said, I do think many Americans overdo the grain-based carbs, and would be happier (and maybe even healthier) if they cut back on them some. Do you disagree?


    • slumlord says:

      I was absolutely miserable and hungry all the time

      Two observations.

      One of the interesting things I’ve noticed with my work is that many of the food Nazi’s will claim that that are feeling “so much better” since starting whatever detox type diet, yet it’s pretty apparent that they’re still miserable.

      Why the denial of one’s feelings? I don’t get it.

      Secondly; Whilst flying from Singapore to Frankfurt in Economy class I noted that about 5 passengers were having special meals served to them. On the other hand, whilst flying from Singapore to Melbourne there must have been about a fifth of the passengers in my section of the plane having special meals, nearly all of them being women.

      Food intolerance as a social phenomenon?

      Just observations


  6. agnostic says:

    Google Trends shows a steady rise in searches for “gluten free” from 2004 until late 2013, then a slow downturn. Don’t know how that’ll translate into broader interest or sales — maybe people know enough about gluten-free from Googling that they don’t search for it anymore, but will continue to buy products or read magazines.

    I don’t mind food nazi behavior if it’s low-carb (but then I wouldn’t). Gluten-free, paleo, bacon craze, anti-soda, pasta out / grill in, shaming phrases like “would you like some diabetes with your lunch?” — all for the greater good of slimming down our fatass country and getting folks to start eating grown-up food instead of glorified kiddie junk food.

    Yes, gluten-free can be used to rationalize junk — lord knows I binged on gluten-free carbs when I found out it was the wheat that made me bloated after meals. But then it was only a hop skip and a jump to cutting out / down on carbs altogether. No need to worry about gluten cross-contamination when you’re making a salmon omelette.

    Even if it doesn’t serve as a paleo gateway for some folks, at least they’re eating a relatively less poisonous grain.


    • Yeah, I don’t think it’s a entirely bad thing that a lot of people are cutting back a bit on the grain-based carbs. “Would you like some diabetes with your lunch?” is hilarious.


  7. peterike says:

    The thing about food fads is people LOVE having something wrong with them, something to complain about. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but in New York this was a traditionally Jewish thing, to kvetch about your illnesses. But as with so much else, the dominance of Jews in media has pushed Jewish tropes into the mainstream, especially the SWPL mainstream (e.g. everybody’s Woody Allen now).

    Back in the day, MSG “allergies” were all the rage. Though in fact, nobody — literally nobody — on earth is allergic to MSG, which is just an amino acid found in the human body. But that didn’t stop people from saying “no MSG, it gives me a headache!” This was 100% the power of suggestion — and the NEED to have a complaint — yet it was amazingly widespread. Nobody called out that the emperor was naked. To this day, people still make comments about MSG.

    The same thing is happening with gluten now. Though while MSG was both harmless and highly useful in flavoring food (it’s found in huge amounts in Parmesan cheese, which is why that’s such a great flavorizer), I agree with others above that it IS a good thing if people in general start to shy away somewhat from wheat and other grains, and corn syrup especially. The problem being, though, that there are way too many people on earth for everyone to be on the paleo diet. So save the oceans, and eat a baguette.

    I first learned all this about MSG through the great food writer Jeffrey Steingarten. His original piece on MSG — “Why Doesn’t Everybody in China Have a Headache?” — I can’t find online. But this other article is more or less the exact same article: not sure who may have copied from whom.


  8. “Eat Clean” is a great bit of marketing. It taps right into America’s inherent, Puritan fear of impurity and uncleanliness. If you’re eating “clean”, you are obviously morally superior to those sinful “dirty” eaters.


  9. Atypical Neurotic says:

    I cannot recall the last time anyone ever lectured me on what I put on my plate, or even preached some dietary gospel in my presence. Anyway, I know whose opinions count and whose don’t. And as I am a great believer in tradition, I am always complimented when, say, grandmothers, ask me for my cheesecake recipe. They know it’s fattening, and they know I know it. The idea is to make it for a large crowd, or better yet, take it to a pot luck and leave it with the host. That way, you won’t be stuck with a fridge full of temptation. But even if you do end up eating a third of a cheesecake over the course of four days, it’s not like you make it every week, now, is it? Hmm? Didn’t think so….


  10. Steve Sailer says:

    Seth Rogen explains what “gluten” means in “This Is the End:”


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