Before launching into the technical definition of gluten, it’s interesting to note that this two-syllable ingredient is the subject of a countermovement that is revolutionizing the way America eats and looks at food. And the majority of the population doesn’t know it . . . yet.
Gluten can no longer be taken for granted as the primary ingredient it once was. This now-infamous ingredient has a reputation for being dangerous to a considerably large segment of the population in the United States, as well as other countries. Those who can’t digest it can face grave physical consequences if it’s not promptly removed from their diet. A pretty strong warning to be sure, but gluten’s supreme reign in the food chain as an all-powerful and glamorized ingredient in cooking, baking, and product manufacturing is getting a run for its money. As the gluten-free diet continues to be the fastest-growing food movement in the United States, the role of gluten, or lack thereof, in the food chain is impacting the food industry and our lives as we know it.
With an increasing understanding of gluten and what it can do to the body, Americans are becoming more and more aware of their diet and their individual relationships with food. This modern-day gluten-saga continues to unfold, leading up to the undeniable conclusion that this one ingredient, found virtually everywhere we look, is not suitable for everyone, which raises several larger questions: Were our bodies naturally designed to tolerate gluten? As generations of families discover their intolerance to gluten, live life without gluten, and produce other generations who live without gluten, will this be a wake-up call to a new phase in human evolution?
So, then . . . what exactly is gluten?