Gluten Free options are becoming an option on many menus in restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries and the number of gluten free products offered at your local grocery stores in Broomfield has certainly been on the rise. If you do not subscribe to this diet, you may not notice like those of us that do, or even know what gluten is, but those of us that are avid Gluten Free diet gurus certainly could name all the food establishments in Broomfield with a Gluten Free option and could rattle off the definition of Gluten in a heart beat. Those of us that are motivated to eat know our food options! Gluten is proving to become a disease maker in many people across the country as a whole while Gluten Free products are becoming a moneymaker for others. In order to understand this phenomenon, let’s first explore what gluten is and which foods have this infamous ingredient. Then we’ll have Broomfield locals weigh in their definition of Gluten to add a little perspective
What is gluten anyway?
If you search the Internet, you’ll get many similar definitions with varying degrees of detail. All the definitions agree that it’s a protein found in many grains.
Gluten (from Latin gluten “glue”) is a protein composite that is found in the seed of grains and foods processed from these grains, including barley, rye, oats, wheat, spelt and kamut. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helps it to rise and keep it’s shape and gives the final product a chewy texture. Worldwide, gluten is an additive to foods otherwise low in protein and used as a flavoring additive or a thickening agent.
There are different names for the gluten protein in different grains. For instance, Gliadin and glutenin comprise about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed and Hordein is 52% of the gluten protein in Barley seed and so on.
Where do you find Gluten?
Gluten is hidden in pizza, pasta, bread, cereals, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods. Clearly, gluten is a staple of the American diet. It’s the basis for imitation meats resembling chicken, pork, beef, fish and duck. The Japanese forms are seitan, namafu and yakifu. Gluten absorbs the liquid when cooked in broth forming a firm texture therefore it’s used often in vegetarian, vegan and Buddhist cuisine.
Because the United States Food and Drug administration has recognized gluten as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), it might not be listed on the labels of foods. Therefore, you may find gluten in unexpected products used as a stabilizing agent such as ice cream, ketchup, soy sauce, gravies, soups, whiskey, and modified food starch. You may also find it in products that use grain alcohol, such as in extracts and alcohol itself. Many pet foods contain gluten to enhance the protein content as well. So we’re all exposed even our pets! In case you’re wondering, the USDA is formulating requirements for proper labeling.
Does Broomfield know gluten?
When Broomfield King Sooper shoppers were asked what gluten was, here’s their take:
Lucy, age 74 – “It’s wheat. It’s products with wheat.”
Chris, age 11 – “It’s something that makes you unhealthy but tastes good.”
Paul, age 43 – “When I first heard of it, I thought gluten mean over indulgence, but now I know it’s the protein in grain”
Justin, age 14 – “Something inside flour.”
Sierra, age 13 – “Something that’s in most bread.”
Cheryl, age 44 – “It’s an ingredient in bread.”
Linda, age 55 – “It’s in wheat.”
Giana, age 26 – “I have no idea what gluten is? It’s something they put in food.”
Agnes, age 68 – “I don’t pay much attention, but I do see a lot of labels now a days. What is it?”
April, age 44 – “It’ a trouble maker. My niece has celiac. Gluten is in wheat.”
So there you have it. Only 10% of Broomfield knows gluten!
Web Definitions: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=wdI&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&defl=en&q=define:gluten&sa=X&ei=VYYzTZOzFcWAlAelqLWLCg&ved=0CCAQkAE
Marc Hyman, M.D.; Huffington Post article dated January 2, 2010: “Gluten: What you don’t know might kill you”