Stores are failing at providing gluten free items all over the country. It’s so frustrating for those of us with celiac disease – for whom gluten free is NOT a fad. I don’t know why it’s so hard for them to get it right – but I think it’s because they’ve never actually asked someone with celiac disease what they want/need. (In other words, designing for patients without patients aka end users.)
So I decided to help them out. And instead of emailing each store individually each time I want a product that they don’t have, I made a list of the gluten free items/brands that I like and don’t like. Things that I wish I could find in any store with ease. To get this list out, I’ve tweeted it a few times, but that doesn’t much help when I’m actually at the store and realize that they’ve completely gotten rid of the ONE thing I went there to buy (thank you HEB for getting rid of my Betty Crocker Gluten Free chocolate chip cookies that I wanted to make for Christmas.). Or that they’ve rearranged their products so I can’t find them because they thought they’d make more money if the items were mixed in with the rest of the store (which once led to me getting a non-gluten free product and a horrible trip to the ER. An issue which Whole Foods was all too happy to dismiss when I brought it to their attention).
Now, I’ve made this brief letter (see below) to give to the manager of any store I visit to inform them of what I want. Hopefully they’ll read it and improve their gluten free offerings.
There are so many good products on the market for those who need to eat gluten free (much better than in 2003 when no one knew what gluten free was). But we lack access to them – meaning whether they are stocked or sold at a fair price (I cannot tell you how hard it is to be on food stamps and afford gluten free food – there are no coupons for gluten free in the weekly mailers). It’s time that this changes and gluten free is taken seriously.
I’m tired of being treated like a dollar sign and a fad because my autoimmune disease is a joke to many.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease on January 3, 2003. I have tried just about every gluten free product that I’ve come across and put together a list of what I think are the best. You can find this list by visiting: http://goo.gl/OqTzsl or scanning this QR code:
In the past I have seen stores fail at providing gluten free items for 3 reasons:
- They carry the wrong products;
- They set the prices far too high; and
- They intermix gluten free with regular products thus making them harder to find (which can also lead to product confusion and the chance a celiac will inadvertently pick up a non-gluten free item).
Gluten free isn’t a fad for me or a way for your store to make money. It is a serious autoimmune disease that affects my everyday life. I hope that you will improve your gluten free offerings at each store so that wherever I go, I can find the products I need to live a happy, healthy life.
Erin M. Gilmer, Attorney at Law
NPR did a great piece here: Gluten-Free Craze Is Boon And Bane For Those With Celiac Disease
And I leave you with these fun sights at the local HEB’s in Austin: