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Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Louise Pearl's new grocerybakery-kitchen in Dorval is certainly targeting a niche market: people on gluten-free diets.
As a food-industry consultant who also is head of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association, Pearl said this background made it a natural for her to open Louise Sans Gluten Free, on Dumont St. just west of the Fénelon Blvd.-Highway 20 interchange.
Her goal is to offer people with celiac disease a one-stop place to shop for gluten-free foods, from freshly baked breads and desserts and candy to packaged goods like pasta and soy sauce.
"Those of us who have to eat gluten-free, normally our shopping methods require going to many, many stores to find the things we need. There's a little bit in lot of different places," she said. "You can find gluten-free foods in health food stores, a bit in some grocery stores. For normal people what is a trip to the grocery store, can for us be a trip to four, five or six stores."
Pearl said she came across many gluten-free options while working as a consultant in the food industry.
"I realized many companies I helped transform to gluten-free production ended up with no shelf space (in stores)," she said.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Commercially sold oats could also pose a problem for a gluten-free diet if it comes in contact at the production plant with the other three grains, Pearl said, adding she offers uncontaminated oats for sale at her store.
"For us to shop in a grocery store, you constantly have to read labels. Is this safe? is this not safe?" she said. "A lot of times it's not indicated, like the source of the hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, so you put it back on the shelf because you don't know if it's from a grain you can't eat."
Her target market includes people with celiac disease, an auto-immune condition that can disrupt the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, which effects about one per cent of Canadians, and those who have a gluten intolerance, estimated at about five per cent of the general population.
"So there are a lot of people who eat gluten-free," she said. "Some people eat gluten-free for the wrong reasons, some think it's a healthy diet and they'll lose weight. That's a misconception because we can't eat products with wheat, rye, barley and oats, so you eat less of them, you eat less bread.
"People think a gluten-free diet is a healthy diet by eliminating the carbs. But you have to be careful with the products we eat that are not enriched. We have to use starches to balance out the mixes of flour. So it's not necessarily the healthiest if you don't go look out for nutrients, fibre and vitamins elsewhere in your diet."
Since her store opened in midJuly, Pearl said people from all around Montreal have come to shop.
"It's a kind of diet people will travel a fair distance to get what they need," she added. "So they don't just come from the West Island. It's destination shopping. It's specialized food, and you will go where you can find it."
Aside from the groceries, bulk foods and baked goods, Pearl also offers a lunch counter (sandwiches, quiches, soups and salads) Wednesdays to Saturdays, as well as cooking classes at the store, which is open Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Since its grand opening event in late August, the store has been buzzing, Pearl said, adding she is considering reorganizing the back of the store for more storage space and to offer more bulk food supplies.
"I knew we would grow, but this fast is really nice," she said.
Pearl currently runs the store with a few employees, plus some help from family and friends.
For information on the store, check louisesgft.com or call 514631-3434; for more on celiac disease, check celiac.ca or celiacguide.org.
*Reprinted with permission of the author Albert Kramberger of The Gazette. For original article, please see http://westislandgazette.com/news/26027
Monday, October 17, 2011
Colombian tour operator, Colombia World Tours, is offering meal plan options for gluten-intolerant, vegan, vegetarian, and people with food allergies.
Young Canadian scientist turned entrepreneur, Dr. Vivian Kulaga, is putting a long-awaited dream of celiacs, vegans, vegetarians, and people with food allergies, literally on the map and she's doing it in Colombia. Dr. Kulaga, or “allergic girl”, as she calls herself, has taken her struggle of travelling with extensive food allergies and combined it with her love of travel to make “lemons into eco-tourism” as she calls it.
“I know how frustrating it can be to try to explain to a well-intentioned waiter - in a foreign language - that even a little bit of butter is bad”.
Vivian, suffering from a multitude of food allergies and intolerances (dairy and soy to include a few) has made it her personal mission to make life easier for those in the same boat by giving them a break on one of her company's all-inclusive eco-adventure tours. Typical vacation packages aren't geared to cater to travellers with special diets, and so people with allergies, intolerances, or non-mainstream diets can't escape worrying about their food.
“The constant vigilance can be stressful, and is the opposite of what a relaxing vacation is supposed to be. Sometimes I just want a vacation from cooking, reading food labels, and having to continuously explain my dietary needs to people who often just don't get it...”
How does Colombia World ensure such special meal plans?
“We only work with restaurants where we personally know the owner and chef and are confident in their knowledge regarding the special food preparation issues. We also don't compromise on destination, so we hire private cooks/chefs and book appropriate facilities to personally prepare the special meals where needed. Because our groups are small we are able to manage individuals on a personal basis.”
The best part Vivian says about her company's vacations is that unlike other travel industry providers that can accommodate special diets, Colombia World's tours don't just stay put but rather travel from destination to destination – not an easy feat when dealing with special diets!
“We travel from city to town, to coffee plantation, to mountain, to hot springs, to beach....”
Colombia World Tours is passionate about Colombia, special food needs, and the environment. Their small-group tours travel across Colombia's breath-taking coffee growing region and luscious Caribbean coast. Colombia World also is a supporter of eco-friendly practices, and the local communities which their tours visit.
For more infomation please visit www.colombiaworldtours.com or
Contact Dr. Vivian Kulaga at (647) 800–8227 or email@example.com.
Vegan, Vegetarian & gluten-free options.