Some points for food co-ops, organicish supermarkets, Vegetarian Timeses, and post-hippie eaters everywhere:
Wheat gluten is not a form of meat.
Wheat gluten is not in fact an animal product of any sort.
As far as I know, there are no specific ethical issues concerning the production of wheat. Wheat stalks are not raised under especially cruel conditions.
Some people, I guess, have medical problems that make them sensitive to gluten. Most people do not. The allergy-of-the-month club doesn’t count.
Wheat has been a staple of the human diet since, like, forever. You know why the Fertile Crescent is called the Fertile Crescent? Because wheat grew there. [UPDATE: Which is not to disparage the many cultures whose main grain is rice. Do you know what is not a prominent feature of the cuisine of those cultures? Muffins.]
There are many nice baked goods that you can make without gluten, such as corn muffins, corn bread, and corn dodgers. Flourless chocolate cake can also be tasty. Cookies made of ground tapioca and potato flour are nasty. Maybe if you’re avoiding gluten, you shouldn’t try to make cookies? Those aren’t real cookies. In my experience, people who are allergic to peanut butter don’t smash up chickpeas and rubber cement in an effort to get something with a similar color and texture and then put it on their sandwiches with jelly. Or if they do, I haven’t noticed, because the peanut butter shelves at the supermarket still contain actual peanut butter, not peanut-free chickpea-cement butter.
OK, I don’t actually buy peanut butter off the shelf; there’s a machine at the store that grinds up the peanuts right there, extruding the peanut butter in a form that looks like the poop of a not very healthy person, and that’s what I get. Same principle.
What I’m trying to say is, there is no reason for any store to have a shelf full of scone and muffin mixes EVERY SINGLE ONE OF WHICH IS GLUTEN-FREE. Scones and muffins are made with wheat! That’s what they are! There should be at least one available mix for someone who wants to make an actual scone, not some gravel-chalk dust concoction that’s supposed to help you grind up the rest of your food in your gizzard.
I’m a tolerant man, even if I may actually have gone on a similar rant right there in the store the other day. I understand the plight of the small minority of the population that has Celiac Sprue and may want to have some sort of facsimile of a baked good available to console themselves for the tasty dishes they can’t have, and I’m quite all right with a store selling a couple of things for that market. But why oh why can’t you sell the real thing next to it? It’s not like anyone’s going to get sick from being near a bag of gluten-containing product. Is it possible that the only people who actually want to bake anything are the very people who can’t actually eat gluten, and so there is no demand for actual muffin mix? It doesn’t seem likely. For instance, I wanted to make scones, and, as you may have gathered, I prefer my scones with gluten in them.
I would like to announce the formation of the GRO, the Gluten Rights Organization. We will work for gluten awareness, picketing stores to ensure that for every gluten-free baking-related product on the shelf there is a corresponding product that’s, you know, normal. Also, our website, gro.org, will have a palindromic URL, and that’s pretty cool.
[NOTE: The last paragraph is full of lies; I have no intention of doing anything about this other than ranting about it on my blog, and gro.org looks like it’s already squatted.]