Changes to the contemporary food system, including meals and eating patterns, have occurred quickly. One such change over the past 30 years has been the increase of commercially produced foods aimed at food allergies and intolerances and ‘free from’ dieting.
The gluten free diet has recently emerged as a popular diet trend in Western countries, outpacing its origins as a treatment for celiac disease. This thesis uses material from the U.S. and Sweden where the prevalence of celiac disease hovers around 1–2% respectively, but where the consumer demand for gluten free products has resulted in a multi-billion dollar boon to the food industry.
But why? How has this restrictive, medicalized diet entered the everyday eating patterns and practices of celiac and nonceliac persons alike? What is the appeal to consumers and to the food industry? And what does the increasing awareness of, and catering to, food intolerances mean for interactions around the dinner table?
This dissertation is located at the intersection of ethnology and food studies. It uses ethnographic material and a cultural analytical perspective to study the emergence of an eating community that considers the social, emotional, material, practical aspects of the gluten free diet.
The author, Meghan Cridland, has a B.A. in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an M.A. in Applied Cultural Analysis from Lund University. ’May contain traces of’ is her doctoral thesis.