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06/24/2014

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Karissa

I appreciate you guys explaining what gluten is and encouraging people to educate themselves before going gluten-free but at the same time I feel like this post isn't taking gluten-intolerances and allergies very seriously. It seems in this post that you mostly are mocking gluten-free lifestyles. I am someone who seriously suffers from an intolerance to gluten and believe me, I would love to just "be rebellious" and "eat some gluten" but that would result in me feeling incredibly ill. It's one thing to try to inform people about what gluten is but to make a joke of it is not so kind. I would enjoy Native Foods much more if you sought to please and respect your gluten-free customers just as much as your wheat tolerating ones.

Kelly

Karisa...just a response to people who aren't allergic at all avoiding gluten for all the wrong reasons. We know it is VERY dangerous to people with the actual allergy and we will continue to offer gluten free options in our restaurants. So it is just a reflection on how our culture is quick to jump on a fad they know nothing about. It was just to encourage people to do their research before making claims.

Kristin

Karissa, they specifically talked about people with celiac disease. This is for those who DON'T have it. In fact, you should take offense at these people, as they are following a lifestyle you are forced to follow just because of a fad...and they don't even know what it is they are cutting out. It seems like a slap in the face to people like you who do really need to do it. It makes light of a serious problem and turns it into something trendy that people want to be.

Jack McGuirk

It took longer than I ever imagined for an animal friendly chef to successfully create a restaurant good enough to become a nationwide chain. I'm flabbergasted that once Native Foods achieved that feat, they chose to alienate such a large portion of their potential diners! It's a fact that Chef Tanya can create amazing meals with seitan, but the Rockin' Morrocan is a testament to how far she needs to go to improve her understanding of wheat-free food. Anyone who has strived to live cruelty free long enough knows that nothing is more detrimental to farm animals than vegetarians who return to killing animals for food. The number one reason for throat-slitter recidivism is developing sensitivity to plant foods and wheat is the most common plant food allergen. It would behoove Chef Tanya to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, choose to avoid gluten by providing more non-salad menu items, by improving the few that exist, and by disassociating her self with this blog post.

It feels silly for me to connect the dots between Native Foods - an expanding chain of compassionate eating establishments - and the money that will be lost by demonizing all of the potential diners who contribute to the $23 billion dollar gf food market, but I will try by highlighting a few of the mechanisms at work. When an individual cuts flesh foods out of their diet, they tend to eat more plants. Most plants have at least one component in them that is capable of causing an unpleasant reaction when eaten. Therefore, those who frequent Native Foods are more likely than average to be affected by food sensitivity. The unpleasantness of a food sensitivity can be experienced much more clearly first hand, than second or third, so when it comes to food sensitivities it is best and easiest to take people at their word. Native foods promotes it self as a place where veggie food lovers can bring their friends and family without the threat of their guests being repulsed by a plate of bland spa food - a wonderful, long overdue idea. When they add the caveat that anyone who avoids gluten will be made to feel unwelcome and encouraged to eat something that has caused them discomfort in the past, the promotion becomes much less appealing. I assume that Native Foods prefers to see itself in the early rather than late stages of its expansion. Every customer that is alienated is a customer that will not introduce their family and friends, who in turn will not introduce more family and more friends. Sacrificing one customer today is potentially equivalent to sacrificing hundreds of customers in the future. Native Foods should not consider that affordable for themselves, much less farm animals.

It makes sense that Native Foods is frustrated by those who promote the idea that gluten is unhealthy when Native Foods would prefer for people to consider wheat meat a healthy alternative to flesh. As long as Native Foods sells their delicious Portabello Sausage Burger customers will be aware that Native Foods is not on the anti-gluten band wagon. The last time I patronized Native Foods the cupcakes were still two-thirds frosting, so I hesitate to believe that customers need to hear that everything on the menu is health food. Sixty years ago Ray Kroc established basic truths for food service:

People want a consistent dining experience.
People want to get their food quickly.
Valuing pleasure and over health is so common that a McDonald's can be profitable in almost every village in the world.

Chef Tanya has gone a long way towards utilizing Ray's genius, but she suffers from a similar short coming. The foods that Chef Tanya and Ray Kroc consider beneath them can both be delicious and profitable to serve! Try a Cherrybrook Kitchen Waffle piled with mango and coconut whipped cream. Share Ethiopian food on injera. Chow down on Mexican food with corn tortillas. Order North Indian food with pappadam or a South Indian Dosa or Uthappam. Order almost anything from a Thai, Chinese, or Japanese restaurant. Great vegetarian meals are being made wheat free all over the planet and they are not new to anyone except executives at Native Foods. The simple addition of a wheat free bread could make this comment entirely unnecessary. Before you reply that only gluten can provide the right structure to a loaf order a rustic baguette from New Cascadia in Portland, Oregon or a Classy Grains loaf from Happy Camper. In Portland the classiest restaurant - Departure on top of the Nines hotel - has an extensive dessert menu that is entirely free of wheat and animal products. None of the meat or wheat loving customers complain. There are two successful bakeries that are entirely wheat free and animal friendly - Back to Eden and Petunia's. Regardless of how many people have their first Back to Eden waffle cone or Petunia's corn bread after a dietitian put them on an elimination diet, these bakeries remain successful because wheat free baked goods can be excellent and these bakeries have learned the craft. There are so many resources for seitan loving chefs to use to cater to gf patrons I have a hard time understanding Chef Tanya's struggle with this large constituency in the meat free market.

Vegetarians are especially sensitive to the ordeal experienced by wheat free patrons at Native Foods. They have all been to a restaurant that serves delicious burgers to everyone except them. They have all purchased a salad when
they would have preferred something more substantial. They have all been stuck at the table with what turned out to be the worst choice on the menu (the Rockin' Moroccan), because the staff of the restaurant considered them undesirable customers. They have all passed up on beautiful desserts because the bakers foolishly considered some ingredient essential. McDonald's did just fine by refusing to cater to vegetarians, but for the reasons mentioned I don't believe that Native Foods can maintain their status with the same level of disregard for those avoiding wheat.

Danimal

Thank you for recommending that consumers educate themselves before concluding that gluten is "bad." It's a shame that people need the tip to educate themselves before forming opinions and conclusions, but in my experience, most do.

Jorgen

Thank you Jack M. for your post above. I have dined at Native Foods over 100 times in the past year, and have brought friends and generally considered it a great place. I eat GF and have often wondered why there were not more GF options. The entire tone of Kelly Behr's article is upsetting. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I fear I will be going to Native Foods much less now. Jack, you covered a lot, and it's also how I feel. I've not been to New Cascadia or Happy Camper but I hope too! Native Foods, by making light of a serious issue for some of your customers, you have lost them as well.

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