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In tandem with Celiac Awareness Month in October, Wegmans Food Markets is offering a book for children that the cover calls “a look at the sunny side of being gluten-free.” Available exclusively at the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer until Dec. 31, “Mommy, What Is Celiac Disease?” is the product of freelance graphic designer and art director Katie Chalmers, who will sign copies of the book at select Wegmans stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia on dates in October.
Chalmers wrote, designed and published the book after finding out in 2007 that she and her daughter Morgan both had celiac disease, which tends to run in families. “I wanted to teach my child to think positively rather than feel sorry for herself,” explained Chalmers. “Instead of looking at what she can’t eat, I wanted to shift the focus to all the foods she can still enjoy, all the fun things kids do that she can still do, and how we’re lucky to have found out about this early, so she can grow up healthy and strong like other kids.”
The story takes place during a mother and daughter’s trip to a park on an autumn day, during which they talk about the girl’s recently diagnosed celiac disease, in the process providing answers to such questions as what gluten is and what foods are OK for people with the condition to eat. The book additionally mentions products, brands and companies – Wegmans included – that those living gluten-free can use as resources.
The grocer provides online tools and informational articles on celiac disease and gluten-free living, stocks a large range of gluten-free products in its Nature’s Marketplace sections and a full selection of naturally gluten-free foods, and flags Wegmans products and recipes with the gluten-free Wellness Key (a “G” within an orange circle) to make them easy to identify, as well as supporting community events that raise awareness about the condition.
“We continually hear from customers who appreciate our commitment to help make living gluten-free easier,” noted Wegmans corporate nutritionist Trish Kazacos, who is gluten sensitive herself. “Most often it is how the gluten-free Wellness Key saves them time while shopping. They have learned to trust that the key means we have verified the product is safe to eat for those who need to avoid gluten.”
Wegmans is selling Chalmers’ book, which has been endorsed by several experts in the fields of celiac disease research and awareness, for $11.16, a 20 percent discount off the list price, in the Nature’s Marketplace area, alongside the retailer's gluten-free offerings.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder affecting about 3 million people in the United States. When those with the condition eat foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, an immune system response attacks tissues in the small intestine, requiring the elimination of all gluten from the diet.