When you adhere to a gluten-free diet, whether by choice or necessity, you will need to familiarize yourself with several food industry terms. Gluten is a type of natural protein found in some grains and the food products made with those grains. Organic wheat is a type of grain grown under specific conditions. Some products are organic and gluten-free, but organic wheat is not one of them.
There are no nutritional differences between organic wheat and non-organic wheat, according to a 2006 article published in the "Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry." To be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers must follow strict guidelines regarding the use of fertilizer, genetically engineered seeds, irradiation and conservation. One advantage of organic products is that organic farmers do not use pesticides. There is no requirement that organic products be gluten free.
If you have a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance, you must avoid gluten for the rest of your life or suffer serious side effects. If you have celiac disease, a digestive disorder, then eating gluten can be potentially life threatening because it prevents you from absorbing needed nutrients. Buying organic wheat will not help your condition. Since wheat, rye and barley all contain gluten, you must banish them from your diet.
As you walk down your supermarket aisles, you may notice that some products are labeled gluten free. As of the date of publication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was still working out the details of what that means. The FDA has proposed that gluten-free products meet the following guidelines: contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten; contain no wheat, rye or barley and contain no product made from wheat, rye or barley or crossbred with one of those grains.
Many gluten-free products are also organic. That's fine, but it's not necessary to purchase only organic products to follow a gluten-free diet. Until the FDA approves the gluten free standard, be vigilante about reading product ingredient labels. If a product appears to be gluten free, but is not labeled as such, do not assume that it is. It may be manufactured with equipment also used to manufacture gluten products. Be safe and call the manufacturer to confirm that it is gluten free. Develop a list of your favorite product brands and bring it with you when you shop.
- Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry; Metabolite Profiling of Wheat Grains (Triticum aestivum L.) from Organic and Conventional Agriculture; Christian Zorb, et al.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Organic Program
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Celiac Disease
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Reopens Comment Period on Proposed 'Gluten-free' Food Labeling Rule
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: A Glimpse at 'Gluten-Free' Food Labeling