Although some people will go as far as scooping out the middle of a bagel in order to avoid eating gluten, the gluten-free trend is not gaining much ground in the city of Athens.
At Bagel Street Deli, Brenen’s Coffee Cafe and Court Street Coffee, few ask for gluten-free products.
“Not a lot of people ask for gluten-free stuff. Maybe one person a day,” Vanessa Ott, a barista at Court Street Coffee, said.
According to Hannah Johnson, a graduate student studying food and nutrition sciences and whose thesis focuses on gluten-free diets, there has not been any research demonstrating that it is a healthier diet for the general population.
“When you eliminate gluten, you are eliminating all of the other nutrients that come along with wheat, rye and barley,” Johnson said.
The bakeries are not primarily holding back gluten-free products because of the extra expense, but because of the lack of interest.
“If more people wanted (gluten-free pastries) we would have no problem switching,” Lexi Cereceres, the manager at Whit’s Frozen Custard and Coffee House, said.
Cereceres said that Whit’s got rid of their gluten-free pastries because they went stale from lack of customer interest. Her boss made the decision to take gluten-free pastries off the menu.
Bagel Street Deli has a different reason for not having many gluten-free foods on the menu.
“It’s hard to get quality (gluten-free) bagels and for cheap,” Max Pendell, a delivery driver at Bagel Street Deli, said.
Brenen’s does have gluten-free granola, but Bridget Tovey, a manager at Brenen’s, suggests not eating it if you have serious a gluten allergy because the granola is prepared around gluten.
The only other gluten-free item Brenen’s carries is gluten-free potato chips.
Tovey, a senior studying psychology and criminology, believes that most of the people who ask for gluten-free items are not allergic to gluten, but simply want to try the trend.
“There are a lot of people who come in and order gluten-free bread, and when we say we don’t have it, they are fine with regular bread,” Tovey said.
Unlike Brenen’s Coffee Cafe, Bagel Street Deli has had people ask for gluten-free items in a different way.
“A lot of people who order gluten-free get salads or ask us to scoop out the middle of the bagel,” Pendell said. “I guess less gluten is no gluten.”
Bagel Street Deli also offers an “un-which,” which is a sandwich held together by lettuce instead of a bagel.
Overall, very few people go to Bagel Street Deli seeking gluten-free food, Pendell said.
“I think people are just driven away because Bagel Street and (gluten) go hand in hand,” Pendell said.
Court Street Coffee offers gluten-free cookies. The owner of Court Street Coffee will occasionally bake homemade gluten-free muffins.
Many of the bakeries in Athens do not feel the need to provide more gluten-free options, however.
“(We do not feel pressured) so much where it would be pertinent to our business,” Cereceres said.