Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy No Gluten Required

I got into one of those great conversations today that made me want to share it with the world. It was about the occupy movement, which as of this weekend, is now international.

It also got me thinking about the connections between Celiac Disease and the current conversations happening at and around Occupy

-Funding for disease research is dictated by drug companies. 
Disease research functions a lot like our currently lobbyist system, where the deepest pocket, or perceived deepest pockets drive what gets funded and researched. Barring a celebrity fund raising for a disease, only diseases with giant potential financial gains are focused on. There are lots of drug options for erectile dysfunction, not so much for hard to detect autoimmune diseases with actual co-morbidity, and life-threatening side-effect stats.

-In the United States, we treat the ability to have access to socially and culturally appropriate foods as a privilege, not a right.
In Italy, Ireland and Sweden, there are programs that enable people to purchase gluten-free substitute foods at a lower costs - comparable to gluten-filled products because eating what YOU deem food is important. Celiac Disease is treated like what it is, a disease, not a choice, where only wealthy persons with access to specialty grocers or the internet with a secure shipping address, have the ability to eat the foods that they feel are appropriate for them.

-Access to medical care is considered a privilege, not a right
11 years is still the average rate of diagnosis of Celiac Disease in the United States - this is IF you are so lucky to have health insurance, good health insurance, that will pay for the specialists and tests. Who is able to have care, and find out why they are in pain and often suffering from several of over 300 symptoms, is not in the control of us, the people.

-There is no legal definition or protection around the consumption of items labeled "gluten free"
There have been two federal-level attempts for a legal definition of "gluten free". Companies have highlighted the "____-free" marketplace as a trend that is bringing in a lot of money. This money is great for companies, but for those who MUST avoid certain foodstuffs, not having a consistent definition of what gluten-free is and is NOT, often means people are taking a risk with their health and well-being when purchasing a processed good. The USDA and FDA are not protecting us, the citizens who have a right to know what is and is not in our food.

If you are interested in learning more, continuing conversations, and getting involved, there are lots of ways to support the protesters and the idea(l)s of democracy.

A friend has created a website to collect demands and track popularity.
Occupy Against Big Food, which is happening 10/29.

Talking about it.
Talking about what is happening is making a difference. It is entering into discourse with friends, family members, co-workers and strangers, about what is going on and how you feel about your democracy. It is a huge step. By talking about it, I learned that the Occupy Boston, that I walk by every day, does not need food right now, but is in need of other supplies for the library they just started.

Let the occupying of comments commence!


  1. Chin-up - Hopefully things will change. It only makes sense to list all potential allergens - including gluten - in the food we eat. What are they hiding? In Canada, food-labeling regulations were introduced last February that force food manufacturers to list all potential allergens on their labels. The regs are being phased in and will come into full force in August 2012. Many packaged food products sold in Canada originate in the US - hopefully those same companies will see the marketing advantages of keeping those new labels for their US consumers. Here is a link to more information about Canada's changes: All the best to you, Brigitte in Halifax

  2. Canada sounds awesome. I am excited to hear about how those roll out. Thanks for the support.