Downtown Market column: Gluten Free Momma was ahead of her time
If you are reading this that means it is Tuesday, which means that it is Downtown Market day. I really do look forward to each Tuesday during market season. It helps remind me how lucky we are to live in such a great community. The fact that we were one of the first markets — if not the first — in the state to offer the ability to double EBT and eventually WIC is a testimony to the board members then and their vision of how we can help our community get good, healthy food at less cost. We would not have been able to offer that without the support from the county, city and grants that agreed with that vision and helped make it possible for the visitors to the market. It really is such a beautiful collaboration to be able to double up the WIC Farm Bucks and EBT coupons for our community.
Collaboration can be found everywhere in our market — with our vendors, their stories and how they came to be. Holly, founder and owner of Gluten Free Momma, is another demonstration of such collaboration. She started baking gluten free goodies around 19 years ago, back before gluten-free was a known term. Before the Vitamin Cottages and Whole Foods existed in our valley, Holly was learning to bake not only gluten free but also dairy free. It was quite the undertaking, and she had to rely on friends traveling through the state to be able to experiment with different types of flours as our valley then did not offer the variety required to make good gluten-free products.
Holly was not a psychic, she did not have a premonition that gluten intolerances would be a growing situation in our nation; she had a son with autism that had an allergy to gluten and dairy. They had gone to a doctor in Florida, and this particular doctor had been doing early research on brain functionality with autism, and autism’s relation to food. He is the doctor that recommended the allergy test and the change in eating habits. Now this is quite the news for Holly and her family because Robby, who was 7 or so, loved everything that had gluten and loved to drink gallons of milk. Since autism can also present sensitivities to texture of food — for instance, broccoli has a lot of texture but soft bread is mellower — Holly knew that she could and would learn to bake with his needs in mind. Holly’s first three core dishes were white bread, cookies and brownies . . . all the good stuff if you ask me. Robby had two words in his vocabulary before this dietary shift, and after the shift to gluten free (in addition to some other medically prescribed treatments) Robby’s vocabulary expanded greatly. He could now say “more cookies plllleeeaaasssee Momma,” which is what Holly was tempted to name her business. She has been in business for about six years now, and after much debate decided to use a shorter name for her company, Gluten Free Momma.
We are so grateful to have Holly with us in our little four-hour corner of the world. So come on by our market today from 4-8 p.m. in Centennial Park, and say hello to Holly and her wonderful helper Diane. Grab a slice of her amazing carrot cake (promise you cannot even tell that it is gluten free) and answer the call of the lawn chairs and the Rolling Stone-worthy melodies of Jackson Emmer and Lester Price by sitting in the park to enjoy your treat. However long you are here, we are looking forward to seeing you.