Shop with reckless abandon, but retrain your brain a bit too.
Gone are the days of buying the three remaining boxes of your goodies on the grocer shelves out of fear of never seeing it appear there again. Yeap, I officially now live in gluten-free shopping near-perfect heaven. (Now, if only Whole Foods would build a bakehouse and a green grocer here…..)
In April of this year, Joe Spancic and his wife, Kaylee, opened “G.F. Joe’s Market” in Tumwater, WA. This local market fulfills the wishes of many and consolidates the shopping for all of us. (And the GRAND OPENING Celebration is THIS WEEKEND – May 17 & 18 – with free balloons, samples, and door prizes – beginning at 10AM on Saturday 5/17! I hope to see you there!)
On my first visit in April, I stopped in on a whim. A friend had told me about the market opening and I convinced my husband that we should go “check it out”. My poor love. He’s been on so many car trips while we venture off into the never-explored lands to find some gluten-free item,goodies, store, rare flour, etc. Really. He’s a trooper.
That first night we ventured out and he tried to pull back my aspirations a bit. After all, we knew nothing about what to expect or what a “gluten free market” here – in a small-ish community – would look like. We have grown accustomed to shopping in Seattle monthly, or the two local co-ops plus local markets.
And now? Now I have my choice of at least 5 different brands of pastas (yea, babee!!) on ONE shelf in ONE store – not FIVE shelves in FIVE stores. Thank you, Joe!
And the pastas aren’t even the tip of the iceberg. What do you crave? Joe’s got it.
(Like the best EVER (and vegetarian, to boot!) Vitamin-C gummy bears in the world, or maybe you crave the new Schar’s crackers…the one like Saltine’s that help you tummy?….. or maybe you just want to pick up a bag of certified gluten-free oats? or Montina flour blend? or rice bran? or soy sauce? or… the list goes on and on and on!)
I sat down with Joe and his wife, Kaylee this Saturday. While I had originally had thought I might include their responses here to our conversation as an interview type blog entry, the more I spoke with them, the more I realized that the entry would be too formal and stiff to represent why I wanted to write it in the first place.
You see, since I was diagnosed in October of 2000, I have done what many of you have: Use the internet as my primary connection point about Celiac and going gluten-free. In fact, my doctor merely told me the name of the disease and a few other things like “no pasta, no bread, etc” and that was that for him.
But not for me. Nope. I went right to the computer and typed in “celiac disease” in a google search box. Pouring forth from google were websites (celiac.com, celiac.org, gluten.net, etc), a few book/author names (Jax and Bette), etc. Within a few clicks, I had found communities of gluten-free people on a few forums or listservs (like the SillyYaks group on Yahoo).
They literally saved me from my own brain. I was staring at my box of now-verboten Kashi cereal and wondering what I was to do. The only flours used were rice, tapioca, potato (starch and flour) and buckwheat (rarely). We bravely made a few breads and even order a slew of pre-made breads and breakfast biscuits for traveling on our honeymoon. My love swears that 2/3 of the weight from our suitcase to Rome was due to the gluten free bread/biscuits inside. (I think he was right.) And… we left most of the gluten-free briquettes behind in Roma without even being touched. They weren’t good.
We attended one “support” group meeting. It was confusing and we felt very disconnected. I should have gone back… but didn’t. And then we moved….to a small town where the words “gluten free” had people asking about dog food.
My, oh my how things have changed, huh? I cannot imagine how good it must feel for those of you diagnosed many, MANY years before I!
And now my world has been improved even more so. Thanks to Joe and Kaylee’s amazing gluten-free market so close to me, I could cry!
Actually, I think I may have just gotten teary on my first night there when I laid eyes on cinnamon gluten-free “graham” crackers, frozen cheese ravioli and gluten freehoisin sauce (!) all in one place. While I had heard about all of these goodies online, I’m not a big fan of ordering food online without knowing what it will taste like. And now… well, now I have a bottle of hoisin sauce waiting for me to do some grilling tomorrow night.
Okay, I think I’m rambling now. No. I know I’m rambling now.
You see this post is harder to write than I imagined.
I wanted to talk about the importance of our gluten-free community. We each do something to help lift up someone else. I blog to share. Bette wrote cookbooks, spoke at meetings, etc. Others spread the word through connections at schools – telling teachers, nurses, etc. That’s what we do. That’s how we’ve been helped too.
And Joe opens a market with the love and support of his family.
On Saturday, while I was visiting with both Joe and his wife, new customers came in. In a heartbeat, you could tell which customers were there to begin the journey and who had already established their path. As I chatted with Joe, Kaylee got up to help the customers find what they needed. She asked who they were shopping for, what what occasion, etc and then lead them around the store to a few items that would fit their need. When they left, you could see the relief in their body language and they eyes. I remembered seeing Joe do this as well on my first night in the shop.
Within GF Joe’s Market, the Spancic family is there to serve as gluten-free guides as well. I began to wonder if every Celiac diagnosis should come with more than just a renovated kitchen to hold all of our goodies and staples, but also a tour of GF Joe’s with Joe & Kaylee.
I think that kind of welcome to the gluten-free life would really help bring out some gluten-free smiles too.
Before I forget, Joe’s son told me that his dad makes one mean Chicken-a-la-King. I even got the recipe. However, I didn’t have any chicken defrosted… SORRY!… so I’ll make and share Joe’s recipe with you all another day. I really wanted to get this post out. I want people to know about their market… and the grand opening….and about the wonderful community we make together.
Each one, reach one. That’s what we teachers say.
I think it fits for the gluten-free world too.
What do you think?
Who or what made your transition to the gluten-free life easier?
What do you wish you could find at your local markets?
What would you shop for at a local GF market if you had one?
I would love to have Joe get some happy WELCOME and GOOD LUCK email for his store.
You can send him email here or to Kaylee.
You can find his website here.
You can read an article from our local paper here about the store/market.
Please leave a comment below and tell me your favorite GF Market treat or food you’d like to try.
I’m going to learn from Carrie and Mary Frances and put all of your names in a hat and then pull one at random on Friday Night.
I’ll send a treat from GF Joe’s to the person whose name I draw after Joe’s Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday. (I’ll mail the treat out early next week.)
(Please let me know if you have any other allergies or intolerances so I can find you something at Joe’s. He’s got it ALL, ya know.)
UPDATE: This weekend I attended GF Joe’s Grand Opening. I’m happy to say that my *mom* was with me and my love while we shopped. She even picked the winning name out for the treats. I shipped off a couple goodies to The Devil Dog Family on Sunday afternoon.