• Delicious
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Green Idea 1 : ' Find your nearest Farmer's Market and go there this weekend with friends...
  • Green Idea 2 : ' Swap your old incandescent bulbs for CFLs when they burn out and start saving $$$
  • Green Idea 3 : ' Try using your bike this weekend instead of your car...
  • Green Idea 4 : ' This Spring why not plant a small kitchen garden of tomatoes and peppers on your balcony or patio?
  • Green Idea 5 : ' What are you waiting for? Make the change today!

    The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create healthy, productive environments.


    You can grow your own food whether you live on a rural farm or in a tiny urban apartment. Urban gardening is all about using space wisely to regain a closer connection with your food and beautify your home or neighborhood.


    Explore energy resources, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal, ocean thermal, and wave power, that replenish themselves within a short period.


    Locating the Farmers' Market nearest to you is now only a few clicks away. Localharvest.org is a useful and straight-forward site designed to faciliate your quest.


Gluten-Free is NOT a Flavour...

Posted by vergelimbo On 2:07 AM 16 comments

In recent years there has been a staggering proliferation of confusing new food labels appearing on items found on your supermarket shelves. Interpreting these new "dietary hieroglyphs" can be a challenge to even the most informed consumer. While some labels are issued by research-based Certifying Authorities and offer thorough explanations of what they signify, others are underpinned by less empirical foundations, if any at all. But which are which? The food-label design market is undergoing an unprecedented boom. (insert graphic here) It would seem that now would be an ideal time to be a graphic designer! The examples below, of competing symbols for the "Gluten-Free" label, are only a small sample of the myriad of symbols currently vying for pre-eminence in the new and increasingly lucrative "Gluten-Free" food market.

Apparent Difficulty Reaching Consensus On Label For "Gluten-Free" Foods

MEANWHILE, overheard at a grocery store near you:

"Do  you guys want to get some ice-cream?" I  asked  hopefully, as Kim, Skye and I strolled by the frozen section at our local grocery store.  
"Yeah!", both girls exclaimed in unison.
"What flavours have they got?" Kim asked, as we stopped to look.  
I began to read the labels, "Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, strawberr..."
"I want Gluten-free!", Skye interrupted,  striking  that self-righteous pose she'd  been practicing lately. 
"Gluten-free is NOT a flavour, Skye", I managed. Kim laughed.
"Yeah, it is!", Skye exclaimed. My eyes began to roll upwards.
"No, she's right", Kim said, "it IS a flavour- it tastes like crap".  


The scenario presented above is intended purely for satirical purposes, (foodies, don't get your knickers in a knot) and the names of the consumers have been changed. Nonetheless, the truth it describes typifies a post-modern and unfortunate new trend in food consumerism and group decision-making. Eating is becoming more highly individualized and regimented, as opposed to the social and flexible activity it once was. The "Breaking of bread"(Gluten-free or otherwise) with others, sharing food and the conversation that follows is an integral part of building and living in community with others. Sharing food (nutrition for the body) and ideas (nutrition for the mind) is an essential cohesive dynamic. The more recent trend of "personalized" eating, take-away meals for one and the apparent rise in food sensitivities may foreshadow other emerging social  food/eating complications:

Have you experienced a similar "food control" issue lately? Have you perhaps avoided hosting dinner parties for fear of not being able to satisfy the ethical, political, economic, religious, and dietary needs of your friends? Have you stood for countless hours while shopping, carefully reading labels and trying to recall the precise difference between the "USDA Organic" and "Certified Organic" labels? If so...

Share Your Thoughts Below!
 For more information on the need to standardize food labels and the dangers caused by misleading or misunderstood certifications see: FOOD LABEL DANGERS



True indeed, verge. Valid commentary on the symbolic choices facing middle class white people who need to be seen "doing the right thing" even if they don't know wot that is!


Always lovely to hear a good representation of an idyllic past.

However, I have no less conviviality and good conversation with people who have food allergies. Are you suggesting that people with nut allergies should damn well get over it and have some fun? I hardly think the conversation would be any more convivial in the ICU, especially if they are deceased.

I think there has probably always been finicky eaters, it's just that medical science has now given a name to what was genuinely disagreeing with them.

Anyone who decided to stop giving dinner parties because one or more of their friends suffered from an allergy probably doesn't understand what a dinner party is.

Need to distinguish between eating disorders, food allergies, food preferences (yes, some people just don't like anchovies - I love 'em!), diets to combat obesity, and those who choose to be vegetarian.

Looking forward to coming over to your cave for a side of scorched hog! Can I drag my woman over too? Oh, I better let you know, she doesn't eat eyeballs.

Interesting responses in the last 24 hours...@mike: there definitely is a new "moral conspicuous consumption" element to people's food choices these days. I am personally all for informed choices, moral or otherwise. Hence the importance of understanding the labels.

I had hoped this article would provoke some discussion, and it has. Some friends have read it without commenting and they each seem to come away with a different "take" on the article.

Essentially, the first paragraph explores the confusing world of symbol interpretation, and information needed to make an informed purchase ( for whatever reason)

The grocery market sketch highlights the individualizing of choice in a group dynamic. And the final paragraphs explore how the personalization of eating can effect the social value of sharing food.

Verge, there is a quite clear suggestion in this piece that people who have food intolerances are somehow anti-social, anti-community and anti-intellectual. The pejorative words like "unfortunate", "food consumerism", "individualised", and "regimented", are set against your idylic "the social and flexible activity", "breaking bread", "sharing food", "nutrition for the body"..."and mind". The article sees a definite progression from gluten free to the end of community as we know it. It gets more obvious as you move on to "eating complications", "food control", and outright "fear" of cooking for friends. You seem to think that food allergies are heralding a dystopian cultural meltdown. But I have shared tofu with friends, and I can asure you we exchanged ideas, were social to each other, and felt group cohesion. And here's a scoop, gluten free bread can be broken too. Wow!

I like your article/blog/whatever. Shouldn't the standard label be: Fuck Gluten!

Good story on food labels. It can ber confusing for real. I wonder why so many allergy in the last years. Maybe like with not being exposed to germs as much today kids get sick because of a weak system not tested by germs. Sharing food with people also shares germs, and this is maybe a good thing. Its an idea to look at. Nice to have some much choice for food as today.

Too true RajVing, there is a rise in the number of people with allergies, and we have to accommodate them when throwing dinner parties. I find it a welcome challenge as a hobby cook to prepare good vegetarian food, for example. I think you are right about the cause, clinical, chemical clean houses. Its BIG CLEANER who is partly to blame, always playing to peoples fears about germs.

Hi Gdoyle, Can I suggest a little more school? Education is a wonderful thing. Verge, if your article is not a polemic, how has it drawn out this type of contribution?

I am just noticing that all of the Gluten Free symbols in your piece are actually pretty clear. They do their job of letting the purchaser know that the product is Gluten Free. Don't know what all the fuss is about.

If the girl in the dialogue actually believed that Gluten Free was a flavour, then she would be a bit of a moron. But I find it unlikely that anyone would believe that. I think it is more likely that she was just involved in a bit of comical banter. Either way, it has nothing to do with the the issue of Gluten Intolerance, and does not reflect on Gluten Intolerant people in general, obviously.

There is some important information on the conflicting standards for various "gluten-free" labels found in the last link. @Terry that you think the symbols "are actually pretty clear" is part of the problem that I am trying to highlight, as a label which reads "gluten-free" on a Canadian product means no gluten at all, whereas the US FDA "gluten-free" labels allow up to 20 ppm of gluten, and some other codex international standards allow up to 10 ppm. These are the "official" governing bodies. Manufacturer's claims are not as well regulated (see linked article) and often contain high levels of gluten despite having gluten-free stickers.

As for the germs issue, @Rajving, a recent article in Scientific American seems to support the link between food allergies and germs. It found kids in rural areas of the US were roughly half as likely to have food allergies as kids from the city, and exposure to a wider range of germs is thought to ge the cause.

I love the double-entendre: Fuck Gluten! label suggested by @gdoyle...and while I did hope this article would provoke a discussion, the satirical scene in the middle seems to be the central focus for some despite itt being sandwiched between two larger, informative slices of blog: 1) The confusion and trustworthiness of food labels at the moment, and 2) how personal eating habits affect social eating habits and the impact upon society as a whole.

I hope this clears up any confusion this article may have caused...please let me know!


I've experienced the same confusion with "Organic" labels. I try to eat foods that are pesticide free, though as you have pointed out, each label means something a little different. Some years ago I was made aware of gluten vs. gluten-free foods, which has finally hit the mainstream. I'm not allergic but am "gluten sensitive". I don't feel that I'm elitist about my foods, only an informed shopper mostly relying on local farmers for my food. I appreciate the blog and could use this information in a form that I can use when I'm shopping (with an explanation of what each symbol means). Can you make an app for that?

Great post! I hadn't thought of it or heard it before, but I think you're absolutely right that the personalization of eating is a threat to the communal experience of sharing a meal.

Nice to hear some positive comments about the need for standardized labelling. It is hard to be an informed consumer if the information is vague and/or misleading.

@Lindaah, most people aren't elitist and self-righteous about there biting habits, and in some cases, in the case of Gluten allergy, their informed purchase is essential to their health and well-being. By the way...do I know you? I was thinking about such an app the other day. Thanks for the reminder.

@Michael...I often host dinner parties myself, and they have become dinner parties/pot lucks recently with people bringing their own specialized dishes as well, which is a win-win for everyone. Maybe that is the new model!

hmm perhaps we have all become too sensitive and too self absorbed with our own selves. Every thing cause cancer, everything is harmful to us, Wow according to the Myans the world is going to end.
Perhaps we should just enjoy what we have and forget about labels.
Peace out

anonymous above is right: we are so "self absorbed"... whow! And really surprised if s.o. dies age 70+... sooo joung!
Mates: look at other countries where they die age 7+ cause they did not even had gluten to eat or dirty water to drink!!!
And yes: "enjoy what you have and forget about labels!"

Enjoy life!!! :))

Hey Ute! How are things back in Germany? That video you posted was unbelievable...it is truly amazing what we are capable of as humans dispite apparent limitations. It was inspiring and funny and thought-provoking. Thanks for the link: http://youtu.be/yo_24_qTNac

More articles coming soon...hope for my input from you.