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Grocery Store Scorecard

scorecardGrocery shopping can be an ordeal when you’re gluten intolerant unless you do your homework first.  Though a lot of processed foods do contain gluten, there are plenty of them that are gluten free.  It would be nice if every label shouted at you as you walked down the aisle: “Hey…buy me…I’m gluten free!”  But life is never that simple.

So, it’s good to know which grocery store chains either carry gluten free products in a separate section or are helpful identifying the products you can eat with gluten intolerance.  There are lots of big chain stores where you can find gluten free food, but even your local chain stores can be helpful.  The key is asking to talk to the manager first, and also calling the headquarters and asking a lot of questions.

I did that for every store I grocery shop at and have a file I keep with information.   After a while, you start to learn which brands are your best bets to be gluten free.  But even if you follow my lead and check out your local stores, you should never get too comfortable or take anything for granted.  Brands change their formulas and ingredients all the time.

I wanted to share some information I’ve gathered about grocery stores.

Wal-Mart gets an A+ for effort!  Since 2005, Wal-Mart has made the manufacturer of its private label foods identify if there’s gluten present.  So you can scan labels on private label products and find gluten free foods.  I thought that was great news, because whether you like Wal-Mart or not, you have to admit the prices are great.

Trader Joe’s is a private label store in 14 states.  I’ve been in one and was really impressed.  They take allergies and intolerance’s seriously.  In fact, there’s a list in the front of the store you can easily access with food products identified in various categories such as “sodium free”, “sugar free” and “gluten free”.

Publix is joining the organic and gluten free band wagon.  The chain stores provide a list of food items that are gluten free and sold in the store.  Also, the stores have added an organic food section. The one in my neighborhood store is small right now, but I figure it’ll grow.    I have found several gluten free foods in the organic section.

Safeway has private label gluten free foods, but the labels don’t state they are gluten free.

Wegmans and Hannaford are two northern state store chains that sell gluten free foods.  You can even find the products listed on their websites.

Local and small chain specialty stores are great sources for gluten free foods.  If you’ve always avoided your local health store in the past, it might be time to check it out now. Any place you can find that sells gluten free food makes your life easier.

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