Yesterday, in honor of National Celiac Awareness Day 2009, I attended a day of special events at Harry's Farmers Market in Alpharetta, Georgia, sponsored by Harry's and the Atlanta Metro Celiac Association (and affiliated group of the Gluten Intolerance Groups of North America).
Harry's planned a fun afternoon of activities, from a "Gluten-Free Birthday Party" to food tasting to a special talk and store tour by Jennifer Harris, a good friend who is an officer in AMCA (and the gluten-free specialist at Return to Eden.
In honor of Samuel Gee, MD, father of modern celiac disease, National Celiac Day is celebrated on September 13 to bring light and awareness to this autoimmune disease. Harry's cheduled a gluten-free event on Sunday, September 13th from 12-5 to coincide with National Celiac Day. This is an annual event for Harry's that it is open to the public, features a number of events and is FREE. This is the only mainstream grocery chain in Georgia (that I know of) to put on such an event that reaches out to those who follow a gluten-free diet. (I'm quoting their press release there.)
It was a delightful afternoon, but most of all, I enjoyed the fellowship with others with Celiac Disease who are gluten free. In fact, one of the Moms who brought her daughters to the party said, "I really came for the exchange of information."
So exchange we did. We talked about products, procedures, even restaurants and menus. We talked label reading and cross contamination. We talked iPhone applications and shopping guides.
That's one thing I love about the Celiac/Gluten-Free Community. We share.
But, after all was said and done, I was disapointed. No, not at Harry's -- I admire them for doing this. but it was NATIONAL Celiac Awareness Day! I heard of NO OTHER PLACES in Atlanta having a similar event. NONE. Not even the other Harry's had an event.
And that troubles me. While it was a victory to raise awareness in honor of Celiac Awareness Day, there's still a long way to go.
I know that everyone who attended yesterday's event learned a lot, though. And that's a step in the right direction.
I'll have an extended post on some of the products available at the vendor demonstrations on Ging Recommends! later today.
Much love, and Happy Celiac Awareness!