Food Movements Challenge Servers

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Hi, I Am Allergic To Everything.

I remember as a kid there was this false idea that the food placed in front of me at any restaurant was actually healthy. And it didn’t help when my parents were aiding the poisons in my food by making me finish it.

“Finish your plate kid. It’s good for you,” said my father (smart man, just completely oblivious to the food in general).

I bring this up because we, as servers, are now completely over our heads with the plethora of food movements happening in our world. GMOs, Organic, Free-Range, Gluten-Free are just a few of the million terms patrons will bring up to us with no idea what they are talking about. But to be honest, as a frequent guest of the finer establishments around the valley, I do sleep better at night knowing where my chicken comes from. China, as a country, is cool, but their poultry system has seen better days. And the possibility of my chicken being cooled in a vat with 30 million other chickens doesn’t fly with me these days.

Um, bird flu? My favorite.

Yes, I support the fact that we should know where our food is coming from, but I totally condemn the fact that some individuals use these guidelines of food selection to mask their bad habits. Eating a bag of gluten-free junk food IS NOT HEALTHY.

Typical Americans! We have to stop blaming wheat on bad gas and weight problems. I decided to do a bit of homework about gluten tolerances and Celiac Disease. The initial Google searches are amazing.

1) One is a diagnosable problem (Celiac)

2) Another is medical “short-hand.” (Gluten-Free)

To boil it down, if you have Celiac Disease and wheat enters one’s system, things can get real, like major stomach pain and other nasty afflications.

Untreated gluten intolerance is associated with certain cancers, osteoporosis, infertility, skin rashes and joint pain.

The Mayo Clinic reports the disease is becoming a major public health issue. It’s now four times more common than it was 60 years ago, and affects about one in 100 people.

But, if you have a gluten intolerance, you’re not going to die. Gluten is the new scapegoat in the world of food. Can you name any other allergen in wheat? Well there are 27 of them. Gluten just seems to be the easiest to pronounce.

Poor gluten, you have given nutritional value to peasants around the world for thousands of years. And now we turn our backs, and have shunned you! It also doesn’t help your case that some companies have turned you into Mr. Hyde.

As a server it’s a double-edged sword. On one side we need to be meticulous about knowing our menu. Knowing the facts that the steak we just placed on Table 45 was from a small farm in North Dakota, where Farmer Brown kisses his cows before bed each night. But combine our food knowledge with a customer who diagnosed himself with being allergic to dairy, gluten, wheat, meat and corn. Well we are F’ed.

Custom tailoring dishes based on the fact that you don’t want to fart all over your partner later is a valid concern. But not enough to head back to the kitchen and beg them to cease the flour bomb they are about to produce. But say the magical word, Celiac, and I am all about making sure I do not contribute to your death.

So, here is my quick synopsis, if we, the server and the consumer, each do a bit of homework the world will be such a happier place. A LOT HAPPIER.

Now I am going to make a gigantic bowl of pasta, and crop dust everyone at my restaurant.

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