‘Narcissistic food intolerance epidemic’ rages among affluent

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Friends in Venice saw a restaurant menu with the following important message emblazoned it: “We do NOT serve gluten-free food.” Rough translation: If you don’t like my pasta the way la Mamma has always made it, try someplace else.

There has been a huge and mysterious rise in celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that results in damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested.

But of course the gluten-free trend is not just about multiplying celiac sufferers. People decide gluten must be bad for them because they see shelves full of gluten-free food at supermarkets. Forms of food intolerance, whether to wheat or dairy products or something else, have reached near epidemic levels among the global middle class.

But I don’t want to show the intolerance of the omnivore for faddish food particularism, however overblown it may be. There’s a lot that’s good in food fetishes. People are more aware of what they eat and how they want to feel as a result of what they eat.

People are eating better. That’s good. But if people over 80 will eat anything, yet people under 25 are riddled with allergies, something unhealthy is going on — and it’s going on most conspicuously in the most individualistic, anxiety-ridden and narcissistic societies, where enlightenment about food has been offset by the sort of compulsive anxiety about it that can give rise to imagined intolerances and allergies.

Overall, I’m with the Venetian restaurant owner making his stand for tradition. Gluten has done O.K. by humanity for upward of 10 millennia. It’s bad for some people, but the epidemic of food intolerance has gone way over the top.

Read full, original post: This Column Is Gluten-Free

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