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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Introducing the Bay Area Gluten Free Buying Club, a CSA for Celiacs!

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge La Boulange's walnut peasant bread. Not gluten free but maybe one day!? - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • La Boulange's walnut peasant bread. Not gluten free but maybe one day!?

Sheryl Davies is a self-described foodie. She also has Celiac disease, a condition that prevents the small intestine from fully absorbing food. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, and that means, for Celiacs, cutting gluten out of the diet is a must. Since there's nothing so satisfying as eating a loaf of bread in one sitting, that really sucks. However, Davies decided to stop drooling over her husband and non-Celiac children's dinners, and decided to do something about it.

Enter the Bay Area Gluten Free Buying Club. Modeled after CSAs, the idea is, you sign up for a box, and once a month, you pick them up from an agreed upon location. Right now, the only location is in Palo Alto, but Davies hopes to expand. There are a few boxes to choose from, including family, kid, foodie, dairy-free, and gluten free facility only.

We had the chance to talk with Davies about the whole operation, and here's what we learned:

What prompted you to start this up?

I was tired of making my husband and non-Celiac children eat for me vicariously. I am definitely a foodie and would drool over every post, review, etc. about fantastic artisan gluten-filled goods. I knew there were talented bakers, but they often were too few and far between to actually get a steady stream of products. I have fallen in love with the CSA's that we participate in. I love the relationship with the farms, the freshness of the products. It occurred to me that a similar model could connect the best artisans with foodies like me and my Celiac son. I hope by providing a venue that we can help vendors test new products, have access to foodies that appreciate innovation in food, and promote really good gluten free goods, not just something that happens to be gluten free. It is possible to make high quality gluten free food, and there is no need to settle.

Where will you be sourcing the contents of your box? Are they made specifically for you?

I am sourcing the contents directly from the artisans and they will fill our order directly. I have encouraged artisans to think outside their normal product line. Perhaps they have a good gluten-free bread, but can they work to develop an olive boule. It is all local, meaning Northern California.

How many people can you serve for each type of box?

There are example boxes on our website, and the number of people it will serve depends on how much baked goods/other products people eat. A family box, for instance, may contain 2 types of bread, a pasta, some cookies, breakfast goods, maybe an Asian sauce that would typically have gluten. For some sandwich-eating families, that would only feed a family of 4 for a week. In my home it would last longer.

Have you gotten a lot of interest?

We have gotten quite a bit of interest, but the challenge is spreading the word so we have enough subscribers. Since I am not charging for the service, our ability to pay for direct advertising is limited. I think we will have enough volume to launch in November, just in time for people to use the extra order feature to pick up some Thanksgiving goodies.

I'm sold! If they start a vegan box and I get a raise, I'll definitely consider joining. Vegan and gluten-free? Those people exist, and anything we can do to make their lives more delicious is truly God's Work.

If you're interested in getting in on the gluten free buying club, fill out the interest form so Susan can get you rolling before Thanksgiving. Happy Gluten Free Holidays, Gluten Free SFoodies!

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Laura Beck

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