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Wednesday April 16, 2014
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Gluten-free Ann Arbor



In most communities, Silvio's would be a rarity. But in Ann Arbor, it's one of many restaurants and groceries working to make food that's safe for patrons who suffer from celiac disease.

Often referred to as the most under-diagnosed genetic disorder of our time, CD is an inherited, potentially life-threatening autoimmune disease. Triggered by gluten--the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley--it affects an estimated three million or more Americans. Treatment involves the complete elimination of gluten from the diet.

Arbor Farms co-owner Robert Cantelon says demand for gluten-free products "has exploded" in recent years. Cantelon and his buyers are especially proud to have discovered Toledo's Organic Bliss, a wheat-free, gluten-free bakery that turns out "awesome" pies, scones, cakes, brownies, and cookies. Whole Foods has its own Gluten-Free Bakehouse in North Carolina, launched in 2004 under the guidance of chef Lee Tobin, himself a celiac sufferer.

As manager of marketing and member services for the People's Food Co-op, Kevin Sharp is constantly being asked about GF products. "It's probably the most common question we get," he says. "We try to carry at least one gluten-free option in every department, along with related specialty items"--something that's becoming easier, he observes, as more manufacturers offer them.

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