An advertising manager discovers the world of celiac disease while on the job.
I love to cook and entertain. As a long-time vegetarian (now pescatarian), finding creative and delicious menu options everyone can enjoy has been especially gratifying. While being a vegetarian has its dietary limitations, in my case it was voluntary. Those limitations served me well when I joined the staff of Gluten Free & More ten years ago to manage their advertising accounts and relationships.
But wow, talk about being catapulted into the world of dietary restrictions! Being a vegetarian was easy compared to what I was encountering in my new role. Celiac disease and Autism diagnoses were on the rise. I learned of not just shellfish, but any seafood allergies. The “Top 8” evoked images of favorite song lists, not off-limit foods. Beyond the Top 8, I learned of nightshade allergies and substitutions, and nearly cried at the thought of being unable to eat my favorite potato dishes.
I had familiarity with many of our advertisers’ brands based on my past history as the Group Publisher at Vegetarian Times. But I had not been previously so immersed in the world of celiac disease and other food limitations. And that’s not even touching upon environmental sensitivities. We’re not talking voluntary here, we’re talking necessity.
As I learned more about our title’s history — starting with its founder — I had the humbling honor of meeting many readers and hearing of their personal journeys. Just ten years ago, good gluten-free food was hard to find. Foods were sometimes mis-labeled, and many manufacturers (albeit with good intentions) were not educated in cross-contamination factors. Visiting manufacturing plants with separate facilities to manage cross-contamination issues was eye opening, to say the least. Now, we have so many good, certified GF options. When dining out, many servers ask about food restrictions and chefs will often personally visit the table — practically unheard of when this title was launched twenty years ago.
Those reader stories, along with our own staffs’ experiences, continue to move me and underscore why working at this title means so much: it’s about advocacy, education, inspiration, delicious food and, most importantly (in my mind), emotional support for our various audiences.
Whether readers have found us through our beautiful magazine, our web site, or various social media pages, I am proud to part of this very dedicated team. They remain at the forefront, forging relationships with medical centers for celiac disease research and various other allergies and sensitivities. Our staff meets with attendees at our Gluten Free Food Allergy Fests, fielding questions, delivering information, providing cooking demonstrations, and more. Every one of them inspires me to represent our title with sensitivity. Meeting with advertising partners allows me to convey that passion, while bringing their message of safe products to our audiences.
I personally have learned so much by being a part of the title we’ve built. We never stop learning as the quest for new research and safe food continues, no matter what role we have at Gluten Free & More. This is teamwork at its best. This is pride in my co-workers. This is loving my job.