Calgary goes gluten-free
Expo to educate about ditching gluten
Gluten-free living has become one of the next big trends in North American food culture, said Margaret Dron, event producer of the Gluten Free Expo. The 4th Expo demonstrates this by making their first stop in Calgary on March 24.
“We were receiving an enormous amount of emails from people in Alberta asking us to host an Expo,” said Dron. “So I made some calls and decided it was time to make it happen.”
The first expo was held in January 2012 and started off as a charity event. Dron said she was raising food donations for the Vancouver Food Bank and, because of the tendency for gluten-free products to be more expensive, they were rarely given as donations.
“This meant that people coming to the food bank needing assistance may have to choose between eating or getting ill if they are gluten intolerant,” Dron said. “That didn’t feel right to me, so I wanted to try and make a difference.”
Consumer and manufacturer demand grew this event into one of the largest gluten-free events in Canada, said Dron. Living a gluten-free life style, however, isn’t reserved merely for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, according to Kathy Smart, a holistic chef involved with the expo.
“Gluten-free eating is a healthier way of eating for everyone,” Smart said.
“It is healthier because it is staying away from modified wheat products. Modified wheat products are typically found in processed foods. When going gluten-free, one goes back to basics — fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, meats, seeds and legumes. These foods are packed with nutrition.”
However, Gluten-free living isn’t just a trend. Due to genetic manipulation of wheat in the 1970s, celiac disease and gluten intolerance are on the rise.
Because of the limited awareness of gluten intolerance, there has been a smaller demand for products, which have led to higher costs. With the awareness going up, Dron said she hopes to see manufacture prices level off.
The Gluten Free Expo is open to everyone — those already living gluten-free or those curious about the lifestyle. Experts will be attending to share their knowledge and feature products ranging from pasta, perogies, skin care products and gluten- free spices.
“It’s basically a 60,000 square foot gluten-free party,” said Dron.