Eugene Goes Gluten Free

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EUGENE, Ore. — More people across the country are going gluten free and a new study shows Eugene is one of the top places in the country to go on this diet.  Local restaurants said this trend is helping their business.

Grub Hub, an online takeout service, conducted a study across the country to find the places offering the most gluten free options and looked at the highest demand for these foods. While it found around 4% of takeout restaurants across the country catered to those eating gluten free, that number in Eugene was three times higher.

“We really do take a lot of effort to understand and relate to the gluten free community,” said  Jason Purvis, manager at Go Healthy Cafe.

While Celiac’s Disease impacts around one in ever 133 people in the country, seven to eight percent of the population is now intolerant to gluten, meaning their bodies can’t handle eating wheat, barley, and rye.  Those statistics are causing restaurants to react. “The influx of foot traffic so to speak here for gluten free I would say has increased, not only for the gluten free community, but also for people who have changed their diets to want to stay away from that gluten,” said Purvis.

Across town at the Cornbread Cafe, it’s the same story. “This is all within the last couple of years. It’s dramatic the amount of people that are looking for that kind of food,” said Owen Ott, kitchen and catering manager at Cornbread Cafe.

The menus at both Go Healthy Cafe and the Cornbread Cafe label gluten free items. “We pretty much try and do an alternative for everything on our regular menu that’s gluten free,” said Ott.

According to Grub Hub, gluten free taken orders increased by 66% since April 2012 and local restaurants have noticed the increase in demand.  “It’s becoming a big part of business is having those options,” said Ottt.

Restaurants are starting to build menus around the gluten free craze. “I think going forward it is going to be pretty much double billed with how we’re advertising this place because it’s huge,” said Ott.

Eugene rounds out the top three cities in the country for restaurants containing gluten free foods and consumer demand for gluten alternatives.

“It’s amazing, I’m really surprised that Eugene is third nationwide for gluten free, so that’s pretty awesome,” said Purvis.

A local dietitian described the increase in gluten free dining as a trend, but said people with Celiac Disease need to be very careful when eating out to avoid cross-contamination between gluten free foods and those containing wheat.  Those who choose to eat gluten free don’t have to be as cautious.

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