Et Tu, Walmart Grocery?

I stopped by my neighborhood Walmart Grocery the other day to pick up some bananas, milk, butter and yogurt. Now, all cultural stereotypes aside, I don’t patronize this store for groceries all that much simply because it’s kind of limited in the admittedly few high-class items I like.

In case you’re not familiar, Walmart’s grocery operation is not your full-blown Walmart but it’s pretty much the same ambiance. The wine selection, for example, tends to favor sparkling rosés, tequilas and boxed wines. But the store (which took over the Food City operation a few years ago) is close by and handy for grabbing a few staples.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that Walmart has become Sproutserized! Whole Foods-inated. Trader Joe’s-ified

Yes, Walmart now offers an extensive line of apparently totally unnecessary gluten-free butter products (among other items).

After my double- and triple-takes on this shelf label, I thought, Well, maybe I’m just not understanding this gluten idea and perhaps butter products are part of the Celiac no-go list. (And, apologies in advance to true gluten sufferers)

So I checked a half-dozen reputable Celiac sites including, Celiac Travel,, No Gluten, and, of course the Celiac Disease Foundation.

The results (to cite No Gluten) are unanimous: “Can you safely use butter as an ingredient in your foods? Or should you abandon this ingredient and choose some other foods that don’t use butter? Let’s answer the question, ‘is butter gluten-free?’ The answer is yes, butter is gluten-free.”

Has even Walmart joined the parade of purveyors of pointless gluten-free products? A few months ago I noticed my local Safeway had started offering gluten-free sugar, which I buy in bulk for my hummingbird feeders.

When I did a quick Internet search on this I found that some folks were getting all constipated about it on the grounds that since sugar may be stocked in the vicinity of flour, there could be cross-contamination as glutenized flour molecules make a daring escape and inevitably invade the innocent nearby sugar bags. (Slightly more realistically, there could be a possibility of cross-contamination in the manufacturing process from companies that produce both grain and sugar products.)

I should add that my heart goes out to Celiac sufferers. It’s got to be tough managing your diet, especially you Catholics who may not have the option to avoid Vatican-mandated gluten Communion hosts.*

Of course I bought the regular sugar for my hummers and haven’t heard any complaints to date.

*A regular wafer contains approximately 22 milligrams of gluten. I got interested in the gluten-free wafer movement from my sister who tipped me off to her rogue church (my term, not hers) in Kentucky of all places, that was offering a gluten-free communion option.
See Why the Catholic Church bans gluten-free communion wafers” and “The Catholic Church says no to gluten-free communion. Here’s why”
However, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (their real name) in Clyde, Mo., (a real place) became the first community to produce low-gluten altar breads that were approved by the U.S. bishops in 2003.
In 2004, Alessio Fasano, then-director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, said that one of the Benedictine Sisters’ low-gluten wafers contained such low gluten that someone with celiac disease would have to consume 270 wafers daily to reach a danger point.



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