Earlier this month, Marc Vetri published a column on Huffington Post entitled I'm Gluten Intolerant... Intolerant that created a lot of discussion on other parts of the internet regarding the gluten-free movement. Here's an excerpt:
"When someone has a shrimp allergy, I don't make them something that looks and tastes like shrimp, but isn't. I make them a great meal based on foods and flavors they can actually eat. Why would they want something "shrimpy" if they don't eat it? So, when someone doesn't eat gluten, I assume they don't want something "wheaty." With so many other choices available from our kitchen, why would they want faux pasta anyway? With Italian cuisine I can make anything they want to eat. Making them a gluten-free pasta--one that's most likely going to be crumbly at best, or chewy, but bound with some sort of chemical that mimics what gluten does to pasta--is the very last thing on my mind.
All of this makes me think of a bigger question: when did we start using the term "gluten intolerance?" Why not just say, "I can't eat wheat," or, "I'm allergic to wheat." I'm guessing it's because many people aren't necessarily allergic to wheat--they just think they are. It seems to be a big buzzword these days. The "G.I." abbreviation has taken on an entirely new meaning. Is it "gluten intolerance," "glycemic index" or "gastro-intestinal?" Nowadays, people are talking glycemic indexes at coffee shops like they used to talk about the price of gas."
From Philly Mag:
"Extrapolating from this example, he goes the Jimmy Kimmel-esque, "no one even knows what gluten is, anyway" route to drive home his point:
Truthfully, unless you have celiac disease, which is a major issue in 1 percent of the population, you probably don't know what gluten is, let alone what glycemic index is. You're most likely listening to some half-truths written in a book by some doctor who is more concerned with the width of his wallet rather than the width of your waistline."
Vetri also gave an interview to the gluten-free lifestyle site GlutenDude:
"GD: I’m not a fan of the gluten-free trend. I don’t need 10 different types of mostly crappy gluten-free bread to choose from. What I need is for my autoimmune disease to be given the respect it deserves and I think the trend takes away from that. I know many people do gluten-free half-ass for all the wrong reasons and it makes it more difficult for us to be taken seriously, especially when eating out. Talk about the trend from your point of view. You have people coming in who MUST be 100% gluten-free and then you have the posers. Is this frustrating as a chef and restaurant owner and how do you handle it?
MV: I wouldn’t say its frustrating…just interesting. In that article I wasn’t so much frustrated with the woman than I was simply interested in the fact that she didn’t know certain things about what she claimed to be. This IS the problem! I use the restaurant almost as a metaphor to bring a much bigger issue to the discussion arena…we are a nation that is getting unhealthier by the decade and we’re all looking for a quick fix that doesn’t exist. So we’re talking on things like whole grains, finding a loophole where maybe eaten in a certain way it spikes Glycemic index and then jumping on the bandwagon of another serious disease like Celiac.
It starts there and goes into our everyday life. It’s in our lunchrooms at school, it’s in our quick grab and go eating trend, its about our decision to have a quick dinner instead of sitting as a family at dinner table and have a meal together. It’s in our lack of actual cooking at home. And “IT” is making us a much less healthy society physically and mentally."