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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Response to "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?" by Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue Magazine, September 27, 2013

In the article, "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?", the author outlines his views on gluten and those who avoid eating it. It's worth a read since it represents views I have heard expressed by others. A caution though: If you have any sort of food intolerance or dietary restrictions (particularly gluten or lactose), it may irritate you at least as much as the author is irritated by those who avoid gluten.

Here is my response to the author of this article:

That last phrase, "who am I to judge?", is interesting and exactly what I kept wondering the entire time I read your article, Jeffrey. Who are you to make such bold and ill-informed statements about both gluten intolerance (as well as lactose intolerance) and gluten-free food? I had to 'Google' you to learn that you are the Vogue food critic and have been for some time. I assume that is why you feel you are in a position to judge such things as the eating habits, preferences and dietary requirements of others. The last phrase is interesting because you do nothing BUT judge those who choose not to consume gluten for whatever reason. 
The article was well-written, yet, despite your attempts, not well enough researched. You have not sampled enough gluten-free food to state that, "If you can’t eat gluten, then you can’t eat" the excessively lengthy list of food items you provided. That's simply not true. I have eaten and prepared extremely tasty gluten-free versions of most if not all of the things you listed. While you did as good a job as most people - which does not say much - of describing celiac disease and it's relationship to gluten, you make it clear that you are not well-informed about the seriousness of either lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance. 
I'm not going to go into the data that supports the avoidance of gluten for a very large group of people with ailments outside of the two you acknowledge (celiac disease and IBS). These are things you should have investigated prior to writing this article, but it is clear why you did not. It is clear that you did not intend to present an informed investigative report. Your intention was to complain about a group of people that irritate you. 
You finally - after doing much damage by labelling anyone who avoids gluten (and does not meet your narrow criteria) "food phobics" - acknowledge that the science does not agree with your view. Yet, you go on to include yet another population of people who may fake being gluten intolerant and close your article on that note as if to lend support to your close-minded view that gluten is good, healthy and even holy (unbelievable), while gluten avoiders are nothing but a bunch of annoying posers (excepting, of course, the population to whom you so graciously offered your respect - those with celiac disease). 
This is a witty article, and if I too was easily annoyed by other people's dietary choices I might have found parts of it amusing. 
In answer to the question posed by your article's title, "Is True Happiness Possible Without Gluten?", I suggest that for you the answer is clearly a resounding, No. You are not, however, in a position to judge (as you yourself acknowledge in your last phrase) whether this is true for others. A better title for this article would have been, "Why I people who don't eat gluten annoy me."

What do you think?
Should the author have done a little more research?  
Do you agree with me that he ought to live and let live? 
Do you agree with the author? 
Is anyone else hungry after all of this food talk?

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