This has been my first summer as a resident of Sun Valley, Idaho. My life has changed since moving from Chicago last fall. I’ve traded skyscrapers for mountains. Hiking is one of the perks of living in this part of the country. After a recent challenging climb, I thought of the tough ascent those of us with food sensitivities have made over the years.
When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1998, I felt like a pioneer trudging up a steep, uncharted trail. The same was true when I started this magazine. Although people on special diets needed the support and information Living Without provides, it was initially challenging for the publication to attract advertisers. Most of the potential clients I called on thought the food-sensitive market was too small to be of interest.
Fortunately, that attitude is changing. Awareness and interest in food allergies is growing daily. Here at the local coffee shop, The Grinder, regulars like me gather every morning for a cup o’ joe and gluten-free muffins. Yes, gluten-free muffins. Nikki Potts, who owns The Grinder, is using recipes from Living Without to create gluten-free baked goods. Sales are brisk and now other shops in town are interested in carrying gluten-free foods.
Food allergy is the new buzz. Manufacturers now know that there is a market and it’s responsive and hungry for attention. A New York research firm recently projected that sales of products geared towards food sensitivities will reach $3.9 billion this year. Amazing growth. We’ve come a long way.
Yet there is more to do and this issue highlights some areas of concern. Our children’s safety may be at risk due to the severe shortage of school nurses (page 22), the incidence of food allergies (page 7) is on the rise, the diagnosis rate of autism (page 30) is increasing, and autoimmune conditions like celiac disease and diabetes present hurdles (page 10).
For all the challenges, there is resilience—and the hope that the surge of positive changes will someday lead to a cure for our health conditions. In the meantime, Living Without will continue to forge ahead—a strong support and a clear voice for people with special dietary needs. As we work together for an allergy-friendlier world, I’m glad you’re traveling with us.
Here’s to the journey—and to living well, Living Without. Hike on!