I walked out of a health food store with two bags of gluten-free food for $81 bucks. Two bags, $81 dollars. That was two Saturday’s ago before Wall Street imploded. Now, as my stomach flip flops thinking about the college funds, the retirement account and the general economy, I wonder how I am going to support my cinnamon sugar donut habit.
Eighty-one dollars for gluten-free food, most of which has been eaten by now, is shocking. Stores need to make a profit and so do food vendors, they have bills to pay and families to feed too. During my five and a half years of selling advertising space to these vendors, I’ve gotten to know many of these brave entrepreneurs and they really deserve whatever profit margin they make.
People who want to create good gluten free foods face extraordinary hurdles to get their businesses up and running. Most start out in their own kitchens, and after finding a proprietary blend of ingredients that produces a great product, the journey towards mass production begins.
Sourcing ingredients and industrial kitchen space free from cross contaminants is not easy, I’ve heard many variations on this theme. The work is 24/7 and distribution is a Byzantine process to get to the holy grail of Whole Food’s shelf space. Each person has a story, and a passion to make sure that people have great tasting gluten-free food to replace what he or she loved before a celiac diagnosis.
I feel that we have helped some of these companies grow by mentioning their products or by offering an affordable ad for a new kid on the block. It helps all of us in the long run to spread the word about new vendors.
But, in a deepening economic crisis, I am going to have to figure out how to balance my “need” for cinnamon sugar donuts and my real need to cut back expenditures. Although, it does all come back to supply and demand and eventually the costs will go down. The more of us out there buying gluten-free food will lead to increased shelf space dedicated to gluten free food. And I can only hope that as production and distribution get larger, a greater economy of scale will mean lower prices for a finished product.
In the meantime, I will continue to buy those donuts because they are truly fabulous heated up and dunked in coffee while reading the depressing business news.