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Gluten Free — Ham?

There are few foods that have been exempt from social pressure. Eggs, beef, and dairy have each had their turn in the “this stuff will kill you” spotlight. Now, wheat, rye, and barley are under the microscope because they contain gluten.

I love a good food fad. It gives me something new to get confused about, and if there’s anything I like better than a good distraction it has to be something fattening to eat. Food fads are especially entertaining because they change so frequently.

When I was a kid, I was taught that eggs were a nutritious breakfast food. They were filled with protein and vitamins and did many things to promote health. My dad’s Sunday morning eggs and pepperoni were simply to die for! When I reached adulthood, the truth about eggs emerged. Each one was packed with cholesterol and promised nothing but a coronary. If you just couldn’t live without them, you could eat two a week at your own peril. However, you still should keep them out of the reach of children. In fact, it was child neglect to light one up in front of a kid.

Now, it seems that eggs have been rehabilitated, and are good for you. You can eat them every day. They are nutritious, cheap, and will help you reach the high note in the “Star Spangled Banner”. Of course, you must have been able to do that before indulging in an omelet, but that is beside the point.

There is a new trend afoot. Wheat, rye, and barley are the latest culinary villains. This is because even their whole grain versions contain a deadly poison known as gluten. Gluten is deadly for people with Celiac disease. Some people are sensitive to it and feel better when they avoid it. However, the current thinking is that it is no good for any of us. Our government hasn’t placed the cigarette warning on bread, yet. But, according to some, it should.

Gluten is harmless to most of us. My mother made a homemade bread that was divine because the recipe called for plenty of gluten. Was my own mother trying to poison me? I don’t blame her, but her bread was awfully good.

Today, grocery stores are packed with products that are gluten-free. This is nothing new. Meat vegetables and fruit are not made from grain, and, thus do not and never did, contain gluten. Breads, pasta and anything else made of grain have always been loaded with the stuff.

The other day, I was shopping and saw something that proved how gleefully marketers take advantage of any public fad. I bought a package of ham, (which is also not good for you according to some). However, it is delicious, and I can’t imagine a better ingredient for a heart-stopping omelet than a bit of salted piggy. When I was trying to select among the various versions of porky delight, my friend was diligently reading packages to me. I found what I wanted but asked her to read the label to me for price and weight. The first thing she read sent me into fits of laughter. “This product is gluten-free!”

That was a relief. I like my pork to be made from meat. I would have been very disappointed if I had bought a ham made from a rye pig.

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