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Everything posted by joelmw

  1. Good point on the CC. We unloaded stuff for similar reasons--questionable containers, double-dipping, etc. Crazy business this celiac.
  2. A coworker just returned from vacationing in Hawaii and brought back a box of Mauna Loa Milk Chocolate Mountains to share. Since I miss out on most of the other treats in the office, I was eager to find out if these are gluten-free. The woman I ended up talking to at Hershey customer service walked me through the process of verifying that they are. Just wanted to pass that on, since I didn't find any clear statement online. I only know for sure that this particular Mauna Loa product--the Mauna Loa Milk Chocolate Mountains--is gluten-free. I don't know either way on the others, though I suspect at least some are. The rest of the story (with information that should help with other unlisted Hershey products): [This is "old news" to some of you, but thought it might be helpful to others (and wanted to show my source).] Mauna Loa is a Hershey brand. In fact the Mauna Loa customer service number is the Hershey customer service number: 800-468-1714. As of today, none of the Mauna Loa products is on the Hershey gluten-free list (published elsewhere in these forums). As they say, not all of their gluten-free products are listed. The rep I spoke with told me that if an ingredient is sourced from a gluten-containing grain, according to Hershey policy, that grain will be listed with the ingredient. Also, if the production lines are subject to cross-contamination, the allergen will be listed--as tree nuts and peanuts are listed for this product. Since it is their policy to identify both gluten-containing grains and potential cross contamination and the ingredients for this product include neither, it's gluten-free. Score. Of course, it's got other stuff I probably shouldn't be eating, but just one or two shouldn't kill me.
  3. There are fads and ignorance associated with most things everything: not just diet, but lifestyle, spirituality, other cultural and, um, human phenomena. That's just the way it is, people. I can appreciate the catharsis in ranting (I indulge every now and then myself, mostly about politics and horrid drivers, occasionally about food manufacturers and restaurants), but there's no point in taking it personally. You're not the only one they're ignoring, lying about, endangering and exploiting. And the media, unfortunately, tend to reflect the broad and deep idiocy of the people they speak to and about. As others have noted, people's stupid responses create excellent "teachable moments." And the reality is that unless and until someone has that watershed moment--even if they have a close family member who has, or indeed they themselves have, celiac disease--they're gonna think "sorta kinda" is good enough, if they think even that is necessary. Who's to say that for them it isn't? And who are we to say that there's anything wrong in their dabbling in "gluten free" (dabbling which for us would be deadly)? On gluten-free foods being unhealthy, I appreciate the clarification regarding "gluten-free" substitutes, but I think it's misleading to say that eating gluten-free is unhealthy. Since going gluten-free, I mostly avoid breads, pastas and other substitute foods and I eat proportionally far more fresh vegetables and lean meats. Most of the substitutes still taste like crap (in addition to being that nutritionally) and, honestly, after my celiac diagnosis I quickly realized that I never really enjoyed all of the bread, pasta and beer anyway (they were just what I was expected to eat). Note I said "all," not "any." It's a little like saying giving up gin was a bad thing because it made you drink so much more vodka. It's true that I still eat some junk that I shouldn't, but generally speaking, going gluten-free has helped me--in multiple ways--to eat healthier. Thinking "gluten free" means something is necessarily healthy is a lot like thinking the same thing about "sugar free" and "fat free" and "organic" and "locally sourced." But saying that it's less healthy because gluten-free substitute foods are unhealthy assumes that we need and/or will continue to consume those substitutes and, IMO, is no more logical or intelligent. There's a hot debate (which, yes, you can find lots of uninformed opinions about online and in the other media) about whether we need to or should be eating grains at all.Should everyone on the paleo diet ("the" is a misnomer, because there are so many versions and variations of it; lotsa versions--there's some food for thought ) just return to eating a typical, over-processed, grainy diet until they're sure they fully understand it? The thing is: there's a lot that none of us fully understand. I think I benefit from eating "mostly" paleo--just like others might think they do better eating "mostly" gluten-free. So I ask again, is "kinda sorta" necessarily bad? And what about sugar? Might a diabetic think your attitude toward controlling your sugar consumption--if you don't have to take it to the extreme that he does--cavalier? And is it wrong for folks to limit their sugar intake if they don't take it to the "right" extreme? Frankly, I've always hated dealing with those folks who insist that I have to eat one way or another, or who say that if I'm not doing it the way they do it, it's somehow not "real." God help me not to be one of them.
  4. I just want to loudly second this. I was diagnosed with celiac disease almost exactly a year ago. Frankly, since I've been gluten-free, I am not sure when I specifically get "glutened" but I can tell you for sure that the cumulative impact of gluten was devastating--extreme fatigue, brain fog, cramps--and quantifiable. I showed marked improvement within a couple of weeks and wouldn't dream of taking the chance that I'd go back to how I was feeling before changing my diet--not to mention the untold consequences that I didn't notice. One of things that troubles me most on these forums is hearing folks suggest with confidence that a food isn't affecting them because they didn't have a noticeable physical reaction. I think it's kinda cool that they can sometimes be so sure, but extremely dangerous to assume that they will always know. There are just too many variables and our body's systems are too complex for me to take such claims seriously. Gluten is poison. I'd no sooner eat something with gluten in it than chew on d-con or drink a cocktail made with paint thinner. I agree that gluten-free often equals expensive, but I find that that's typically because folks are trying to eat "substitute" foods. I'm not gonna say I don't occasionally enjoy some gluten-free pizza, but for the most part I avoid grains altogether, concentrating on vegetables and meat. I know it's a personal thing, but I don't really miss the bread and can certainly live without doughy products.
  5. So here was the big ol' email I sent to them in the first place:
  6. We first checked out their restaurant in Arlington, TX and have been to one in Carmel, IN three or four times (when we're in Indy we pretty much always go there). Theirs may be my favorite gluten-free pizza. Talking to the staff I also get the impression that they take CC seriously. And compared to many other places that offer limited varieties but will "let" you "build your own" one overpriced topping at a time, they offer a reasonable selection of "specials."
  7. Using the Find Me Gluten Free iPhone app, we discovered a regional chain called TaMolly's as we were travelling through Arkansas into Texas to our residence (my wife refuses to consider Texas "home" ) in the DFW metroplex. They have a fairly new gluten-free menu and their staff has supposedly been "GREAT Kitchens trained." Our experience was horrible. The hostess was surly. The server assured us that the chips were gluten-free. But we had some questions and asked for a manager. When he arrived he made it clear that sometimes foods containing flour are fried in the same fryers as gluten-free foods. But that's not the end. After we went across the street and ate at an Outback, I sent an email to the NFCA and CC'ed TaMolly's. The response I got was excellent. Two great emails and a phone call from the NFCA. A couple of emails from Bob Strate at TaMolly's. We won't know until we return (and it's hard to know when that will be just because we're not often in that area), but I'm convinced they are trying and we will return if we get the chance. I asked Bob if I could share the text of his email and he agreed. Here it is: As part of my response to the above email I suggested the idea of a 100% gluten-free Tex-Mex restaurant (which seems completely doable to me). His reply included the following: Time will tell, but I'm hopeful. Part of my takeaway is Always let them know how they did! Good or bad. If it was good, they need the encouragement. If it was bad, they will either confirm that they don't care or they will have the resources (your critique) they need to make changes. I would be happy to add my initial email to them, but it's long so I decided to leave it out of the primary post.
  8. "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Nice. The only place I can recall that had prices on the gluten-free menu is P. F. Changs--and that's because it's incorporated into the "regular" menu. Kudos to them for both practices. The practice of omitting prices is illogical, annoying and somewhat puzzling, especially at restaurants where the gluten-free menu is updated regularly (and should therefore be well ahead of prices changes). But the fact that servers routinely take away the regular menu is worse than annoying. We've even had a few give us confused or irritated looks when we asked to keep the regular menu in addition to the gluten-free. IMO staff at restaurants that purport to offer a gluten-free menu should be required to know whether it contains prices. If it doesn't they should be required to leave the regular menu with it. To me it's an important dimension of basic awareness and sensitivity.
  9. We'll see about that title. But you'll likely retain it, just 'cause I tend to be intermittent and, yaknow, I've been repressed and all. ("Now we see the violence inherent in the system" etc. etc.) But [ahem] back to the topic. I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and verified the source of my confusion. When we were first checking them out, the Original sauce was labeled gluten-free. The Sweet 'n Spicy was not. I found this same discrepancy last night. Even the fact that Ken's lists it as containing no gluten ingredients isn't IMO conclusive (of course I didn't know that when we first checked them out in the store anyway), since it might have been processed in a facility where cross-contamination might occur. We just ran into this with Progresso, which, to add to the confusion, declares allergens and, of course, doesn't declare them if they're by cross-contamination. I realize that my interpretations are perhaps contradictory and paranoid but just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're making things clear or that they're being consistent ('cause that they're definitely not). As it turns out, last night I found Sweet 'n Spicy SBR's that was labeled gluten-free. And it looks like the gluten-free labels are newer. Must have just caught them in the phase-in. I gots pictures but no time to load them. So, Sweet Baby Ray, I'm sorry for casting aspersions on your glutenless character. In penance I bought a big ol' bottle (of the Original). And I ate some today. And they lived saucily ever after. Nom nom nom.
  10. That would be awesome. It's long past time. It's not really my thing, but I've often wished it were. I like to think I could do beat poet (like Mike Meyers in "So I Married an Axe Murderer") or some Shatneresque pale-man-speaking-words-over-music abomination. But I have a neglected blog. I won't advertise it, 'cause I just read that's uncool (which, btw, makes sense). Not that it would be hard for someone to find if they wanted to--yaknow, anyone I haven't sufficiently offended so far. And, hey, I'm the little people (not literally--I'm 6'7"--but definitely metaphorically).
  11. I see you have a sense of humor so it is much easier for me to accept your advice. So, um, there. I love Joyce and Faulkner and have long been a Blake freak. This should come as no surprise. And I get way to caught up in words and whatnot. Anyways, point taken. KISS is good policy. I obviously need to direct more of this pent up verbal energy elsewhere. Seriously. I will work on taking it down a notch here. Thanks again.
  12. [most humbly and sheepishly, and somewhat askeered] okay [big sigh] Thank you for tracking down the source and reporting the information. And thank you for the winky. It means a lot to me. Seriously. And seriously smiling too. I might have more to say (ha, that's funny: "I might have more to say"; I kill me) later. I feel that I owe an apology or two but I want to make sure that what I say is both accurate (sheesh, that for sure ) and sincere and that any qualification is appropriate. I think I need some alone time first. {And then I almost did what I said I was going to do later. I just tripped into it without even thinking. It was a mess. You can't see it because I erased it. And I was going to attempt to reproduce the internal dialog in which I was arguing with myself about the premature, over-qualified, highly-susceptible-to-misinterpretation, etc. etc. apology.} But certainly to the extent that I contributed to misinformation, confusion, anxiety, frustration, despair, etc., I am truly sorry. At the very least I could have been clearer. And, as Karen alluded to, my initial entry into this thread reeked of anger and frustration. That one I think I would probably retract. It's probably more humbling to just leave it though; I do so in hopes that it will temper my future posts and perhaps be instructive to others. I'm willing to be the DON'T picture. Someone has to do it, right? Okay, I think I've had enough space now to say that I was inappropriately careless in not contextualizing my statements. I see that that's important here. Indeed I'd be okay if we were stricter about that or perhaps established places where information is verified (because, I don't mind telling ya, there's a lot of stuff out here that isn't verified and it's not all contextualized . . . and it's not all coming from me ). I believe that technically I did contextualize, but I might have to, in my words, get "lawyerly" to make that argument and, well, at the very least, that's not very nice and it works against usefulness. Anyway, I apologize for not contextualizing more clearly too. I'd apologize for not being wordy but I'm very sure that 1) my apology wouldn't be properly repentant and 2) it would further exacerbate its own hypocrisy.
  13. Eek. I didn't mean to be making an "allegation." But I do recognize (and what's sadder, did recognize) that I kinda was making an allegation. FWIW, my "pretty sure" isn't an understatement (that is, I don't claim certainty) and, as I think I indicated, I'm a big fan of the SBR so I don't mean to in any way disparage. I was just, uh, pretty sure that they weren't all safe and wanted to throw out that warning, 'cause, as you well know, the super market is not a safe place for folks like us. As it turns out, I did try to verify this online and was unable. In fact, what I found indicates that all of their bbq meat products (except the meatballs) are gluten-free. I'm holding out based on the fact the the FAQ cited seems to most specifically address their "barbecued meats," which "feature" their original sauce, and it does not explicitly address their other sauces. So, um, may it please the court, I submit the disclaimer that my statement is anecdotal, based merely on my recollection of a couple of trips to a couple of different Wal-Marts. At last I'm pretty sure they were Wal-Marts . . . and that they were different. I'm more sure that one of the stores was a Wal-Mart. I realize that the stores in question might be mostly irrelevant, but can't help having fun with the fuzziness of my memory of them. Anyway, yeah, what I remember is that we looked at several bottles of different SBR's sauce and some of them explicitly said they were gluten-free while others did not. I freely admit that I might be wrong about that. I also acknowledge that the absence of a claim of sweet gluten-freedom does not necessarily indicate gluteny-dom. As a direct attack on my credibility as a witness I further submit that all of my trips to the grocery store since my diagnosis are a jumbled mass of mostly frustration and confusion and a desperate grasping after some sort of certainty, sanity and gastric security--all of which are mostly elusive these days, even while my general health does seem, by some grace and good fortune, to be improving. Even now I'm wondering if I somehow attached uncertainty about gluten-free-ness to uncertainty about whether I'd like different variations (e.g., if they had jalapenos or something). I'm still thinking I at least noted the absence of a statement of gluten-free-ness on one or more of the bottles. I do intend to follow up on this though. And I hope my potentially pathetic attempts at humor aren't irritating. It's just a major coping mechanism. Trust me: you'd rather me being sarcastic and/or goofy than cranky. And, well, as for the verbosity, that's just me--whatever my mood. P.S. Eek again, I am seeing further indication that in fact all of their sauces are gluten free. I mostly retract my hasty expression of incredulity. Now I want to go to the store mostly to reconstruct the chain of events that led to my misunderstanding and try to convince myself that I haven't completely lost my mind. Sigh.
  14. I'm pretty sure that not all of them are, but several certainly are. And we prefer them to KC Masterpiece anyway. I only recently discovered that preference. So, um, thanks KC Masterpiece--for leading me to Sweet Baby Ray's.
  15. I called today and confirmed that the reason Chicken and Wild Rice was removed is because it may have been processed in a facility where it was subject to gluten contamination. Frustrating--and unfortunately lends credence to my paranoia about labeling--but at least there is some consistency (the list, their web site, the absence of explicit "gluten free" label).
  16. That's the good news. The bad news is that they won't necessarily identify whether the product has been subject to cross-contamination during its manufacture. My wife picked up a can of Progresso Traditional Chicken and Wild Rice because it did not declare wheat in the ingredients. Just to be safe I checked out their web site, which (more good news ) does explicitly declare which of their products are gluten free; it wasn't in that list. I called their customer service line, gave them the UPC, date and date code (the usual). When the rep came back she told me that it is not considered gluten free because it may have been processed in a facility where it was subject to gluten contamination. I applaud their efforts to inform and even their labeling, but this incident is yet one more piece of evidence that we simply cannot rely on ingredient declarations on labels.
  17. I had eaten there a couple of times since my diagnosis before I saw (I could swear it wasn't on the menus I'd been given before but I may have just missed it) the rather scary disclaimer. I love Jason's, but I'm with you: if a restaurant goes out of their way to tell me that I shouldn't be eating there, I tend to believe them. They're pretty explicit: our gluten-free menu is intended for those who are on a gluten-free diet for reasons other than celiac disease and they fairly explicitly advise against celiacs eating there. It's the most direct warning I've seen at any restaurant. On the other hand, I'd bet that many Jason's are more careful than restaurants who don't make this disclaimer. Oy.
  18. By no means did I mean to explicitly say or imply that you were lying. I apologize for not being clearer--and that I was a little caught up in my crankiness and frustration. I did not in fact understand that the parenthetical was in the original message from them (and not a note from you) and I appreciate the clarification. I do (and did) see that you specifically mentioned "barley"; that argues against your putting it in the parenthetical explanation but not categorically. I notice too that I must have somewhere not made (or made and lost) the connection that you (the person clarifying) were the original poster of the information (I can't account otherwise for why I would have referred to you in the third person when I replied to your comment or for my level of confusion). And if they say that their products are not "manufactured on dedicated lines" doesn't that imply that they are subject to contamination? If so then why are they not required to indicate--as I have seen on many other labels--that the product was produced in facilities where wheat, etc. are also handled? Much of my frustration is with the variety and inconsistency of labeling practices--not to mention the variety of ways those practices can be interpreted. I'm also a little fuzzy on the current law and when each piece of it went into effect. I've tried to pin this down but haven't been able to do so to my satisfaction. As I said, I'd appreciate being pointed to anything that makes this clear, preferably something from the FDA itself. I admit that I did not fully understand what I've been able to find at the FDA--and, from my perspective, they spend a lot of time explaining things I could find elsewhere (and that I am not looking to the FDA to explain) and little spelling out the details of regulation. In other words, I don't need for them to explain what celiac disease is or what's so bad about gluten; I need them to tell me what I can and cannot count on in food and pharmaceutical labeling. It's also deeply frustrating--and somewhat puzzling--that manufacturers seem generally unwilling to be explicit about allergen information online. It's the lack of clarity that makes me distrust them. If they will tell you in an email that "wheat" includes "barley, rye, oats, or any source of gluten" why wouldn't they want us to be able to find that--and a little peace of mind--online? It would seem that they are equally liable for the information wherever it's posted; why not post it somewhere that's easier to find? Also, I apologize for not responding earlier. I am new to this board and had wrongly assumed that I would be notified of comments on topics I replied to. I am in setting up my notifications right now and will hopefully learn earlier when there's activity on the topics I've commented on. Thanks.
  19. From what I can tell, the addition of barley and rye are the poster's interpolation and do not reflect any such statement by HV. They could be explicit. They are not. I just called and got the same message (falling back on the FDA and not explicitly including rye or barley). Their statement is unnecessarily lawyerly and vague and, regardless of the contents of their products (which are, as I've implied, in question), motivates me to actively avoid everything they manufacture. I say that sitting here staring--with some frustration--at a large bottle of KC Masterpiece (purchased--before my diagnosis--as part of a two pack; and yes, we have the other bottle too). I'd be happy to learn that I am wrong. If I'm missing something here, please let me know, but I see no reason to believe that KC Masterpiece is gluten free.
  20. I've only been diagnosed for a couple of months now (I was very sick, tired and close to depression before and am happily improving in health--both physical and mental--since being gluten-free) and this was one of the first threads I read on the forum. I've contemplated replying several times and finally decided today is the day. I'll endeavor to keep it short. My attitude has changed a little since those first days and it will likely continue to evolve. Who knows if my future self will agree with the me who writes today. I certainly empathize with stress over eating out (we do a lot, but much less since my diagnosis) and frustration over ignorance ("you can't eat whey, right?" or "we have a low calorie menu"). Moreover, I'm not going to tell anyone to not be offended--and if I tell you to lighten up, it's probably because I'm being deliberately provocative (though, I like to think, with the best of intentions ). For one thing, I realize telling someone to not be offended is most likely to have the opposite of its intended effect and for another sometimes offense can be productive. Speaking out, for instance, is generally a good thing and if being offended is what it takes, well, by all means. However . . . Humor, IMO, is all about making fun of things that aren't quite right or that we don't understand--including people. Jokes about race, religion, ethnicity, medical condition, death, etc. can be funny. Or not. If they're not funny, I tend to not laugh at them. If they are, I do. I'm not even going to try to start to unpack "funny"--and I'm sure it's a little different for each of us. A couple of the things that make me laugh quite consistently these days (it's an inside thing, so please don't feel obligated to LOL or whatever ) are the statements "that's a completely inappropriate thing to joke about" and "some things just aren't funny." My wife and I frequently use these remarks as a followup to something we're sure someone would find offensive. As a "fer instance," my wife of almost 25 years (not the current one; you'll see in a moment how that would be necrophilia or necromancy) died quite suddenly and unexpectedly almost five years ago. Laughter is part of what got me through that day . . . and the weeks, months and years since. FWIW, she had one of those memorial services at which people were laughing--and I am quite certain she would have preferred and enjoyed it that way. I routinely joke about death, illness, the tragedy of that particular day, etc. That doesn't mean that I'm never serious or somber or that I don't also weep. Most sit coms are crap, as others have already attested--even the old sit coms, as far as I'm concerned. A few are hilarious; a few more are mostly fun. I avoid the genre as a general rule and am deeply suspicious even of those that come highly recommended. I'm actually more likely to accept an insult from someone close than from a stranger--because I know in some form or another the person that's close loves and/or likes me. The stranger, for all I know, may just be a hateful a******. It's a matter of whether a comment is mean-spirited or not. As before, if it is, it offends me; if it isn't, it usually makes me laugh (I admit, if I'm in a pissy or defensive mood, I might get offended anyway). And, as before, there's a lot that goes into determining out whether something's mean-spirited. Let's face it: people, though we are (or can be) glorious and though we do have all sorts of grand potential, usually act like idiots and, at the very least, are extremely annoying much of the time. That includes restaurant workers, sit com viewers and, gasp, celiacs. If I couldn't laugh at them (and myself), well, by golly, I might just have to put a bullet through my brain (or maybe just get hooked up with some serious medication). To amplify what someone else already said, characters in sit coms are usually big NOT pictures--even, in significant measure, the good guys, let alone the jerks. It's a comedy: flaws, dysfunction, ignorance, etc. are amplified for, wait for it, comic effect. Funny how that works. I said I'd make this short (that's funny--or, well, it is to me; it might just be offensive to some of you), so I'm gonna cut it here, with a few final major points (ha, again): As others have noted, anyone getting their facts strictly from sit coms is an idiot. Regrettably, as I've already noted, people are idiots. Alas, no amount of censorship, political correctness, stern lecturing, legislation, etc. can cure that idiocy and, alas, IMO, they are likely to add misery to our already lamentable and mostly incurable idiocy and ignorance. I acknowledge that some legislation and a modicum of stern lecturing might help a little but they won't cure the core idiocy; I also acknowledge that I have no tolerance whatsoever for most forms of censorship and I have mostly mockery for political correctness. I believe that a sit com (even a crappy one in poor taste--see, I'm willing to take your word for it) making bad jokes about gluten intolerance is actually a good thing. Yes, a good thing. If there's anything that gets people's attention it's humor. And I tend to mostly agree with the maxim that there's no such thing as bad press. At least a bad joke full of misinformation (and, please, how many jokes--even good ones--aren't? yeah, a joke can be factual and informative, but that's typically not the point) gets them thinking about it. And imagine having a discussion with someone in which they say something like, "Well, I know you're wrong because remember that episode of the Simpsons when Homer ate the deadly blow fish . . ." Yeah, it can happen, but, seriously, if you can't beat that logic you've got no business trying to explain anything to anybody, let alone gluten intolerance to the ignorant masses. I would so much rather the media be full of bad jokes and half truths about gluten (as they are about everything else) than that people have absolutely no idea what gluten or celiac is. Who knows but that that horrible joke on that crappy sit com prompted some intrepid fool to go googling "gluten" and maybe they came across some actual science along the way. If nothing else we can use crappy jokes in poor taste as teachable moments. Heck, we can beat them to the punch by making our own jokes about gluten intolerance. My favorite shtick is to melodramatically refer to gluten as the embodiment of evil and my arch nemesis. I ward it off with signs of the cross and conjure overblown gestures of disgust, fear and loathing whenever we cross paths. I've decided that I'm gonna start calling it the great satan. And, sometimes, depending on the context, if someone offers me bread or a doughnut or whatever I'll say something sarcastic like how I love to eat a doughnut with an arsenic chaser every morning for breakfast. I know, you're thinking, that just sounds pathetic and corny. You're probably right, but it makes people laugh--or at least smile a little. Besides, so far I'm not allergic to corn, just wheat, rye and barley (though I've been avoiding oats too). And, yeah, they could be laughing at me, but, hell, that's gonna happen anyway; I might as well enjoy it.
  21. FWIW, I appreciate a good rant. And this made my day. Thanks. And please do continue (I'm tempted to look for other rants elsewhere on the board). I don't know that I would do exactly what you did, but part of me wishes that I would and, at the very least, this will give me a bit more confidence--and something to laugh at (at least inwardly or afterward, but perhaps openly in the moment)--when I have to confront gross incompetence and/or indifference.
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