Celiac Aware Cities 2010
Each day, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) receives Brochure Requests from support groups, clinics and individuals looking to spread the word about celiac disease and the gluten-free lifestyle. After years of boxing and shipping "Do I Have Celiac?" brochures, we began to wonder: Which cities are making the most requests?
So, we tracked our requests, analyzed records and came up with the top 5 Celiac Aware
Cities, based on the volume of brochures requested in 2010:
- Baltimore, MD (Chesapeake MD/VA Region)
- Chicago, IL
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
- Denver, CO
- Philadelphia, PA
To honor these cities, we took a look at the celiac and gluten-free culture in each region, including. We even threw in What's Next for celiac awareness in each locale. We're not
saying these factors played a direct role in making these areas so ambitious in their
brochure distribution, but they certainly don't hurt.
Read on to learn all about what makes these cities tick. At the end of this report, we'll give
you a preview of who's on top for 2011. Plus, we'll explain how to request brochures (and
where you can distribute them) to help your city get in the running.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Baltimore, MD (Chesapeake MD/VA region)
In addition to the active DC listserv, the Baltimore area has a number of support groups to offer
guidance and drive awareness.
- The Chesapeake Celiac Support Group (www.celiacsonline.com) has hosted NFCA staff
members at numerous events, not to mention the thousands of "Do I Have Celiac?"
brochures they've distributed over the years.
- The Baltimore Area Celiac Support Group (www.marylandceliacs.org) offers tips on
places to eat and where to shop. Membership in the group also includes membership in a
local celiac kids network.
No surprises here! Baltimore is home to The University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research and
esteemed physician Alessio Fasano, MD, who was recently awarded a $45 million donation to
expand his celiac disease research.
Patients have also reported excellent experiences with:
- Mack Mitchell, MD, Director of Gastroenterology of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
- David F. Hutcheon, MD, of Johns Hopkins Gastroenterology and Hepatology
The Chesapeake MD/VA region is no stranger to gluten-free dining. The area was named "World's
Most Celiac-Friendly Destination" based on 2010 reviews on GlutenFreeTravelSite.com.
When it comes to gluten-free food, Lebanese Taverna has banned the bland. The restaurant offers
delicious Middle Eastern food at six locations in the Baltimore and DC area, and as graduates of
NFCA's GREAT Kitchens program, they know how to serve gluten-free safely. Online reviews
applaud the staff for their careful and knowledgeable gluten-free food prep.
- Lilit Café in Bethesda, MD, is also GREAT-trained and offers an entire gluten-free menu,
from breakfast omelets to dinner entrees.
- Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC, took part in NFCA's DC Gluten-Free Cooking Spree and
continues to meet gluten-free requests.
Ask where to go for dessert in Baltimore and chances are you'll be directed to Sweet Sin Bakery.
The GREAT-trained shop has desserts so divine they're considered a "must-eat" for any visitor,
gluten-free or otherwise.
Maryland-based Jules GlutenFree
Flour may soon become a household name. The company's
founder, Jules Shepard, is a ubiquitous presence on the gluten-free scene, and her helpful holiday ebooks
have helped novices embrace gluten-free baking.
With so much going on in the medical and dining scenes, Baltimore is a fruitful place to blog.
Fortunately, there's a dedicated bunch covering all that's gluten-free.
- As the blogger behind GlutenFree
Optimist (glutenfreeoptimist.blogspot.com), GlutenFree
Social Media Tips (gfsocialmedia.blogspot.com), and the DC GlutenFree
(www.examiner.com/gluten-free-in-washington-dc), it's a wonder how Sandra Robins has
time to do anything else. She covers everything from new products on store shelves to
gluten-free mentions on mainstream TV, and if that's not enough, you can follow her
frequent tweets @MarylandCeliac on Twitter.
- Jules GlutenFree:
Jules Shepard doesn't just bake; she also blogs. A relatively new addition
to her website, the blog ranges from gluten-free recipes to news updates affecting the celiac
community. She's even reported from major trade shows and events.
As home to UMD's Center for Celiac Research (and Dr. Fasano), Baltimore enjoys a steady stream of
- In October 2010, reports surged as the Center accepted a landmark $45 million donation -
the largest in the University's history. The record-breaking gift came from a grateful patient,
with the goal to drive further investigation of the disease, including alternative therapies.1
- In November 2010, a Colorado man announced that his animated Christmas light display
grossed more than $50,000 in donations to the Center for Celiac Research. The display was
posted online via webcam and quickly went viral
Jules Shepard teamed up with NFCA Athlete for Awareness John Forberger to organize the Gluten-
Free Food Labeling Summit, held on May 4 in Washington, DC. Among the features: the world's
tallest gluten-free cake - proof that gluten-free labeling is a big deal.
Natural Products Expo East returns to Baltimore in September 2011. You can bet that gluten-free
items will be in abundance, as the market for celiac-friendly options continues to grow.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Chicago, IL
Chicago may be a hub for medical conferences and foodservice shows, but grassroots efforts by
local celiac and gluten-free advocates ensure it's a topic of discussion year-round.
- The Gluten Intolerance Group of Greater Chicago (www.chicagoglutenfree.com) is led by
Branch Manager Jennifer Cafferty and includes six subgroups:
- Hinsdale (email@example.com)
- Oak Park
- Orland Park
- The Celiac Sprue Association of Greater Chicago (csagc.park-ridge.il.us/) can help you
find the right grocery store and runs "Gluten Free Gang" events for kids.
Home to one of only a handful of celiac centers in the country, it makes sense that Chicago tops the
list as a Celiac Aware City.
- Established in 2001, the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center was founded by wellknown
pediatric gastroenterologist Stefano Guandalini, MD. In addition to patient care,
the Center focuses on physician education and research.
- Just this past winter the Center's top researcher Bana Jabri, MD, PhD, led the
groundbreaking study on the role of retinoic acid in celiac disease.
The Berghoff Restaurant may be one of the oldest restaurants in Chicago, but it's keeping up with
the times. Owner Carolyn Berghoff completed gluten-free training through NFCA's GREAT Kitchens
after her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease.
- Wildfire Grill in Chicago and suburbs are gluten-free friendly and feature special glutenfree
nights at their locations.
- Chicago may be known for its deep dish pizza, but the thin crust gluten-free pizza at Gino's
East is a welcome alternative for celiacs
Swirlz Cupcakes, located in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago, is reported to be the place to go for
a gluten-free dessert.
Kim & Scotts Gourmet Pretzels, also located in Lincoln Park, just added a gluten-free soft pretzel
to their product line. Those lucky to be in the Chicago area can now enjoy a gluten-free pretzel
sandwich at the company's storefront, Café Twist.
Chicago has a robust community of bloggers covering the celiac and gluten-free scene.
- Chicago GlutenFree
Food Examiner: Product reviews and local event coverage by Andrea
McCarthy, who was recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance.
- Rockin' GlutenFree:
Also written by Andrea McCarthy, this blog includes recipes,
interviews and the more personal side of the blogger's gluten-free adventures.
- Chicago Now: This online community covers various topics, but a few bloggers focus on
gluten-free. Notable contributors include Cate C. and gladlyglutenfree.
Celiac awareness also infiltrated the mainstream media. In October 2010, the Chicago Tribune
released a special report on celiac disease. "Your Guide to the GlutenFree
articles from NFCA and the American Dietetic Association, and brought awareness of celiac disease
to the general public.
With a sprawling convention center and abundant modes of transportation, Chicago is a natural fit
for many large-scale events. The Gluten-Free & Allergen Free Expo and National Restaurant
Association (NRA) Show are annual gatherings. In 2010, NFCA hosted the first Gluten-Free Pavilion
at the NRA Show, bringing celiac awareness to the table.
NFCA returns to the NRA Show in May 2011, this time as a major player in panel discussions about
the gluten-free foodservice industry. NFCA will also take part in Digestive Disease Week, in town
May 7-10, 2011.
Starting this season, Cubs fans can score gluten-free concessions at Wrigley Field, as Chicago-based
Enjoy Life Foods has been named the official gluten-free, allergy-friendly food supplier to the
SPOTLIGHT ON: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Whether you're newly diagnosed or have long been gluten-free, you can round up support through
one of the local outposts.
- The Lone Star Celiac Support Group (www.dfwceliac.org) is a division of GIG and boasts
everything from kids parties to news updates.
- North Texas Gluten Intolerance Group (www.northtexasgig.com) offers celiac and
gluten-free info and hosts a number of events with its sister group, Lone Star.
- Dallas ROCK (www.dallasrock.org) focuses on celiac children, but often teams up with the
Lone Star Celiac Support Group for events like the "Making Tracks for Celiacs" fundraiser.
The Dallas/Fort Worth medical community is proving that diagnosis is just the beginning. A
number of medical professionals play an active role in ongoing celiac support.
- John Secor, MD, of Digestive Health Associates in Dallas is active in the local celiac
community, serving as medical advisor to the Lone Star Celiac Support Group.
- Betty Murray, Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor at Founder Living Well
Health & Wellness in Dallas is an "Introduction to Gluten-Free" teacher. Her clinic and
practitioners specialize in gluten-free health.
One of the biggest stories of 2010, Subway announced that it would test gluten-free buns and
brownies, starting at locations in Dallas/Fort Worth and Tyler, TX. Favorable reports streamed in,
as many gluten-free customers applauded the chain for taking steps to avoid cross-contamination.
Across the U.S., gluten-free diners looked on with jealousy and anticipation as they await word of
where Subway's gluten-free options will be headed next.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has earned positive feedback for its gluten-free
dining options, including smoothie stands and a barbecue shack.
In 2009, Dallas-based Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar was among the first chains to add
gluten-free pizza to its menu nationwide.
Sublime Bakery in Fort Worth not only wows gluten-free and sugar free customers, but also
earned mainstream recognition by competing on the Food Network Challenge.
Dallas-based Red Mango has won nationwide acclaim for its refreshing all natural frozen yogurt.
The tasty swirls are gluten-free and kosher, making them the perfect treat on a hot Texas night.
While Austin bloggers may outnumber them, Dallas-based bloggers have made an impact in the
- Simply Sugar & GlutenFree:
Amy Green proves that removing gluten and refined sugar
from your diet still leaves plenty to enjoy. Her creative and enticing recipes culminated in a
successful cookbook, Simply Sugar and GlutenFree:
180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can
Make in 20 Minutes or Less. Launched in February 2011, the book became an instant success
and landed on Amazon's "New and Notable" list for cooking, food and wine.
- Tasty Eats at Home: Alta Mantsch has been sharing recipes on this blog since July 2008,
and as of June 2009, they're all gluten-free. While she focuses on recipes, she also shares
tips on everything from avoiding cross-contamination to building an edible bowl out of nori
News about Subway's gluten-free test run brought national attention to the Dallas/Fort Worth area,
but frequent articles in The Dallas Morning News have kept a local spotlight on celiac disease and
the gluten-free lifestyle.
In September 2010, the Gaylord Texan was site of the Gluten-Free Makeover: A Healthier You, an
event run by North Texas GIG.
- In October 2011, Dallas will be among several cities to host Living Without's GlutenFree
Expo, complete with cooking classes and vendor fair.
- Despite hosting this year's Super Bowl, Cowboys Stadium has yet to pony up and offer
gluten-free concessions.12 We're hoping this will the year that BYO becomes no longer
necessary for gluten-free fans.
SPOTLIGHT ON: Denver, CO
Perhaps the best example of support groups in action was the response we got from the board at
Denver CSA Chapter #17 (www.denverceliacs.org). The group compiled a 3-page letter with
suggestions of where to eat and which doctors to see. Other local support groups include:
- Gluten Intolerance Group of Colorado is led by Branch Manager DeAnna Olson,
- Gluten Intolerance Group of Denver SW is led by Branch Manager Sue Doerner,
Known as a health conscious community to begin with, it seemed only natural that Denver would a
Celiac Aware City.
- Robert Dahl, MD, of Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology Associates is an informed
physician. One patient noted that he "took time and gave personal attention."
- Charles H. Miranda, MD, of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Sky Ridge Medical Center
is reported to have celiac disease. It's no wonder he's highly recommended!
- Diane Moyers, MS, RD, of Greenwood Village, CO, is a Denver CSA Board Member and
offers introductory classes on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet.
- Jennifer Leeson, LCSW, of Centennial, CO, is also a Denver CSA Board Member and has
completed GREAT gluten-free training for Mental Health Professionals. She has been
diagnosed with celiac disease since 2009.
Lala's Wine Bar doesn't just have a few gluten-free options. The restaurant strives to make its
gluten-free menu the same as its traditional offerings, so there are plenty of dishes to choose from.
- BeauJo's Pizza was one of the first in the Denver area to offer gluten-free pizzas and,
according to Denver CSA's president, they always include that in their advertising.
- In July 2009, Coors Field became one of the first major league baseball parks to go glutenfree.
Fans continue to enjoy gluten-free hot dogs, cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches, in
addition to several snack options.
- Colleges & Universities - University of Colorado at Boulder hosted a webcast about their
strategy for addressing the top 8 food allergens in dining services. The program includes
proper sourcing and labeling of gluten-free products. Colorado State University is working
with Denver CSA to meet the needs of celiac and gluten intolerant students.
Along with the neighboring city of Boulder, Denver is quickly becoming a mecca for natural and
gluten-free food products. Gluten-free stars Udi's and Rudi's (both members of the GREAT
Business Association) are stationed in Denver and Boulder, respectively, while New Planet Beer is a
gluten-free fixture in Boulder.
In December 2009, Denver was host to the first glutenfree
food bank in the nation.15 Sandwich
Petals, a Denver-based company (and GREAT Business Association member), was the first to
supply gluten-free donations to Loveland's House of Neighborly Service in Loveland, CO. Requests
for gluten-free donations are on the rise.
Dee: Dee Valdez has been gluten-free for more than 17 years and has since
established a successful career as a gluten-free product ambassador. She played a pivotal
role in launching the first gluten-free food bank. www.glutenfreedee.com
- No Gluten, No Problem: NFCA Athlete for Awareness Peter Bronski shares this blog with
his wife, Kelli. A resident of Boulder, CO, Pete often writes about his active lifestyle and
keeps an upbeat attitude about living gluten-free. No Gluten, No Problem was named one of
the Top 10 Inspiring Blogs for Gluten-Free Food & Cooking by thekitchn.com in January
Steve: Though he signed off at the end of 2010, Denver-based Gluten-Free
Steve spent 4 years blogging about new products and common issues affecting the celiac
and gluten-free community. His archives are still posted for fans to browse.
Denver and Boulder have been widely recognized in mainstream media for being a health conscious
region. Recent articles have begun to highlight gluten-free options in addition to the region's
natural and organic offerings.
Denver CSA hosts an annual Gluten-Free Vendor Fair. Attendance at the event has more than
doubled in the past year, gathering more than 1,800 guests in 2010 compared to 700 at the 2009
Will Colorado become the gluten-free beer state? Only time will tell. Colorado agriculture officials
have been encouraging beer-makers to use glutenfree
millet instead of the more traditional
malted barley. While celiac and gluten-free populations will benefit, the switch is meant to support
the millet industry.16
If not beer, then how about bread? Both Rudi's and Udi's rolled out gluten-free buns and pizza
crust this year, making the Denver/Boulder region the manufacturing hub for gluten-free, family
SPOTLIGHT ON: Philadelphia, PA
It makes sense that the City of Brotherly Love and surrounding suburbs would boast a strong
support network. Individuals and families affected by celiac disease or gluten sensitivity don't have
to look far to find a friend.
- The Greater Philadelphia Celiac Sprue Support Group (www.greaterphillyceliac.com) is
co-run by Karen Dalrymple RN, BS, and NFCA President Alice Bast
- Chester County GIG (ChesterCntyGIG@verizon.net) holds quarterly meetings and has
heralded the cause at grocery store openings and other community events.
- CSA Southern NJ Chapter #9 (home.earthlink.net/%7Eceliac9/) gathers the troops across
the Delaware River.
- Children's Celiac Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
(www.chop.edu/service/center-for-celiac-disease) is managed by Dr. Ritu Verma and
alternates meetings in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
- Team Celiac and FACT were founded by Donna Bell in support of families affected by celiac
and Type 1 diabetes.
- ROCK of Bucks & Montgomery Counties is run by Holly and Steve Staugaitis
Often described as the first "Gluten-Free City," Philadelphia is the proud home to NFCA and a
celiac aware medical community. The Philadelphia area boasts three celiac centers and several
- Ritu Verma, MD, Center for Celiac Disease at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Anthony DiMarino, MD, and David Kastenberg, MD, of Jefferson Celiac Center
- Keith J. Laskin, MD, of The Celiac Center at Paoli Hospital
- David Metz, MD, and David Jaffe, MD, of The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
- Nicole Seitz, MS, GREAT-trained psychotherapist based in Philadelphia
Just across the river in Voorhees, NJ, Pasta Pomodoro (a GREAT Kitchen) has gone above-andbeyond
to promote celiac awareness. Chef Pasquale Masters has cooked for a number of major
NFCA events as well as smaller support group gatherings. NFCA Founder & President Alice Bast has
been known to drop by for lunch.
- GREAT-trained Chef Eric Paraskevas at terra has received accolades for preparing safe and
delicious gluten-free food from scratch.
- Le Bec Fin Chef Proprietor Georges Perrier was an early supporter of gluten-free dining
needs and continues to be a fixture at NFCA events.
- Food for All Market in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia has shelf after shelf of glutenfree
goods, plus delicious gluten-free cupcakes and daily lunch specials made fresh at the
- Sweet Freedom Bakery had a taste of fame when co-owners Allison and Heather competed
on the Food Network's "Cupcake Wars." The shop is all gluten-free, so every cookie and
cake ball is up for grabs.
With a natural interest in all things food, several bloggers in the Philadelphia region have touched
up the gluten-free lifestyle, but one remains a staunch advocate for the cause:
Gluten Free Philly: Michael Savett is a one-man wonder. He writes information-rich posts
about local gluten-free events, the latest products to hit shelves, and the hottest places to
dine gluten-free. And that's on top of being a full-time lawyer and devoted dad. He keeps the
community informed, and that's played a major role in making local awareness events so
Media coverage surrounding Appetite for Awareness has given gluten-free an annual stint in the
spotlight, but restaurant reviews and nutrition bits often refer to gluten-free options in the area.20
In October 2010, Philadelphia magazine devoted a 1-page to celiac disease and the gluten-free diet,
and debunked the myth that it's "just a fad."
NFCA's annual events, including Appetite for Awareness and Celiac Awareness Nights (featuring
Philadelphia sports teams), have put celiac disease in the public eye. Most recently, Philadelphia
magazine's Philly Cooks competition included a gluten-free dish, with celiac disease literature
displayed at the cook's station.
On May 17, NFCA Founder & President Alice Bast will accept the prestigious Philadelphia Award,
marking the work she's done to improve Philadelphians' well-being. 22 Alice plans to make this
honor a springboard for bigger and better advances in celiac and gluten-free awareness.
Across the river, Dr. Schar USA, Inc. is planning to open its 50,000 manufacturing plant in Logan,
NJ by March 2012.23 Celiac and gluten-free families can expect to see more gluten-free products on
the market, and perhaps greater awareness of the demand for such items, as a result of this project.
Celiac Aware Cities 2011 - Current Standings
Think your city is celiac aware? Let's check the standings. As of April 1, the top cities requesting
brochures in 2011 are:
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Pittsburgh, PA
- San Francisco Bay Area
- St. Paul, MN
If your city's not on the list (and even if it is), there's still plenty of time to boost your region's rank
by requesting brochures. Not sure where to start? Here's how to do it. . .
HOW TO: Request & Distribute Brochures
To get your stack of educational brochures, fill out the request form on NFCA's website:
www.CeliacCentral.org/brochures. NFCA staff will gather the materials and ship them to your
address, usually within a few days of your request.
Where to Distribute:
You've got the goods. Now, what do you do with them? There are plenty of ways to share some
knowledge. Organized events can help you reach a number of people all in one place, but you don't
have to wait to start spreading the word! Consider handing out brochures at:
- Doctor's offices
- Natural food stores
- Health fairs
- School nurse offices
- Senior centers
- Yoga studios
- Gluten-free bakeries
- Book clubs
- PTA meetings
Remember to check with the owner or office manager before you leave the brochures. It's another
chance to raise awareness, and they'll feel more comfortable if someone asks about the brochures.
- MD Center for Celiac Research Gets Record $45 Million Donation. NFCA Research News.
- Washington, DC Named "World's Most Celiac-Friendly Destination". Celiac in the News.
- Christmas Light Display Raises $50,000 for Celiac Disease Research. Celiac in the News.
- Gluten-Free Food Labeling Summit. NFCA Upcoming Events.
- Customer Review: Gino's East. Gluten-Free Travel Site.
- Special Report on Celiac Disease Featured in The Chicago Tribune. Celiac in the News.
- Chicago-based family companies highlight new food offerings at Wrigley Field. Chicago Cubs
Press Release. http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/press_releases/press_release.jsp?ymd=20110328&cont
- Email correspondence with Rose Mary Simmons of Lone Star GIG.
- Subway tests gluten-free sandwiches. CNN.com.
- From Gluten-Free Pastries to Reality Television. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth.
- Mom, daughter create gluten-free foods as good as the originals. The Dallas Morning News.
foods-as-good-as-the-originals.ece; Gluten-free chicken tetrazzini. The Dallas Morning
- A Gluten-Free Super Bowl. New Planet Gluten-Free Beer blog.
- Email correspondence with Karen Cranford, President, Denver CSA Chapter #17.
- Coors Field Opens Gluten-Free Concession Stand. Colorado Rockies Press Release.
- 1st Gluten-Free Food Bank Opens. Gluten-Free Dee.
- State Ag Officials Pushing for Millet Beer and Overseas Exports. KUNC.org.
- Appetite for Awareness Creates Gluten-Free Philadelphia Community. NFCA Research
- Nice Words. Eric's World.
- Philadelphia Gluten-Free Bakery Competes on Food Network. Did You Hear?
- Kind Words: Feedback from Attendees. CeliacCentral.org.
- Why Philly's Gone Gaga for Gluten-Free. Philadelphia Magazine.
ee/; Local Gluten-Free Experts. Philadelphia Magazine.
- Alice Bast Wins Philadelphia Award, Puts Celiac in Spotlight. Did You Hear?
- Schar USA Groundbreaking: My Day Supporting & Reporting. Celiac Central: Bits & Bites.