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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Gluten-Free Oregon Travel :Where Gluten is the New Al Qaeda

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Photo: Scott Adams

    Celiac.com 08/31/2015 - It is possible that Oregon could be one of the gluten-free friendliest places on Earth. I had never been there before, but after a road trip to Oregon this summer I will definitely be back.

    One interesting thing that I already knew about Oregon before my trip was that, for some reason, it is a hotbed for the test marketing of new gluten-free products. Many large corporations roll them out there first, before launching them in other states. These companies also pump a lot of marketing money into Oregon to promote these products—on a level that I've not seen in other states. Here is a picture that I took in downtown Portland of a huge billboard for Coors Peak Copper Lager. Not only can I not find this new gluten-free beer anywhere in the California Bay Area, but I also have never seen advertising done here on this scale for any gluten-free product.

    Perhaps due to Oregon's history of being very progressive when it comes to food and beverage trends—for example the microbrewery and organic food movements took hold there very early on—it seems that the gluten-free food movement has also progressed there faster and is far more mature than many other places that I've been. This was very apparent to me when I first crossed the border and stopped at a Subway and found that they offered a gluten-free sub roll option, and the staff was well-trained in how to prepare my sandwich in a way that would minimize any cross-contamination risks.

    Besides large corporate chain restaurants which offered unexpected gluten-free options, every local or family owned restaurant that I ate in also offered gluten-free options and/or a gluten-free menu. In fact, there is even a huge food truck culture in downtown Portland that is centered in parking lots near the China Town area, and many of these trucks advertise that they are either entirely gluten-free or have gluten-free options.

    So you may be wondering where I came up with “ Gluten is the New Al Qaeda” in the title of this article? While in Portland I visited their huge “Portland Saturday Market,” which covers most of the waterfront in the downtown area on Saturdays and Sundays from March through Christmas. In one of the booths I found a vendor who was selling t-shirts and tote bags with this phrase on it, and since I happened to need a tote bag I picked one up. Looking back on this trip now I believe that this vendor's idea pretty much summed up my gluten-free experiences in Oregon—where those who are gluten-free will find many like minded people and therefore wont' have to waist much time explaining themselves when they order food—and a place where gluten is now being avoided by many Oregonians like most people in the world hope to avoid Al Qaeda!

    Photo: Scott Adams

    Edited by Scott Adams


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    Seattle area has also become a great place to live if you're gluten intolerant, especially in the last five years or so. For one thing, the area has come to demand more transparency in the make-up and origins of our food. Maybe our proximity to Canada with their heightened awareness and acknowledgement of celiac and gluten intolerance has an affect. Another influence may be that the booming local tech industry has drawn more people to the area who demand and can afford gluten-free alternatives.

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    I live in Portland, Oregon and found the title of this article in poor taste. Just because one little vendor at Saturday Market doesn't mean that Oregon is down with it. Oh, and Saturday Market is more for tourists and out of towners.

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    I agree with Lizzy and Lindar, and I am a native Oregonian. This can be read two ways: gluten is bad; making fun of or insensitively insulting those who must be avoid gluten.

    I suppose you could look at it in the more negative way if you like?

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    I live in Portland, Oregon and found the title of this article in poor taste. Just because one little vendor at Saturday Market doesn't mean that Oregon is down with it. Oh, and Saturday Market is more for tourists and out of towners.

    Sorry I was a tourist and "out of towner" Coleman...the glass is either half full or half emtpy...eh?

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    In spirit the comparison made in this article is no different from common sayings in the English language like: "I avoid it like the plague." Obviously the plague killed tens of millions of people, perhaps 25% of mankind, and is still a very serious disease that people get each year, however, we still don't think twice about saying such things, and I doubt anyone here would take objection to using this phrase. I too avoid gluten like Al Qaeda!

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    I thought the t-shirt was funny! We must have a sense of humor about our situations, and let's face it, gluten could eventually kill someone with celiac disease, so the comparison isn't that far off. Anyhow, here in Colorado (where they probably make it) we don't even have that gluten-free Coors, so I am very jealous! Hopefully we get it soon. This article makes me want to visit Oregon!

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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