Generation Gluten-Free is a documentary on celiac disease by Susan Cohen. The documentary consists of a series of interviews with several of the pioneers of the celiac disease/gluten-free community. It is much more than that, though. It is an opportunity for the newly diagnosed to see how far the medical community and food industry have come in supporting the needs of celiacs. Celiac is no longer a diagnosis for deprivation, but rather a challenge to overcome within a large, supportive community.
Where just 15 years ago it could take 10 years and visits with multiple doctors before a proper diagnosis was made, it is now much easier due to heightened awareness and a better medical understanding of the disease. Where the gluten-free diet used to consist solely of fruits, vegetables and fresh meats, now an entire food industry has arisen out of the need to avoid gluten. Where dining out at restaurants was a luxury celiacs couldn’t participate in, now there are multiple establishments catering specifically to the gluten-free population. In other words, in just 15-20 years the climate has changed.
This didn’t happen serendipitously. It is in large part due to celiacs themselves setting up a network of support groups so that others could navigate a gluten-free lifestyle easier than what they experienced. The support groups then became the sales force and marketing demographic for gluten-free food companies to emerge and succeed.
The impressive list of interviewees includes:
- Pat MacGregor – Founder of the Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program
- Joseph Pace – Owner of Risotteria in NYC
- George Chookazian – Owner/Founder of http://www.foodsbygeorge.com/
- Dr. Peter Green – Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
- Beth Hilson – Founder of The Gluten-Free Pantry
- Sue Goldstein – Founder of the Westchester (New York) Celiac Sprue Support Group
- Peter Zakakis – Owner of Peter’s Restaurant in NYC
While intellectually I already knew this, what this documentary drove home for me most was how the celiac community banded together and single-handedly built and supported the gluten-free food industry. What consumers see now is a new demographic to be marketed to, but it really all started as a grass-roots effort to help celiacs stay healthy in a gluten-containing world.
I highly recommend Generation Gluten-Free for the newly diagnosed and those considering starting a gluten-free business. For just $4.50 you can order a copy and get introduced to the brave and caring individuals who made it easier to live gluten-free. To order, go to www.generationglutenfree.com.