READER REPORT:

Only rich people have gluten allergies

CHRISTINA STEWART
Last updated 06:30 19/08/2014
Fresh fruit. Gluten-free. Food allergies
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STAY FRESH: Eating whole foods and avoiding packaged foods could save you a fortune.

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Have you seen those Pak'nSave ads at the moment for bread under $1? Pretty sweet deal eh?

The average cost of gluten-free bread in the UK is approximately three times the cost of regular bread, a trend comparable to New Zealand.

The stick man can kiss my glutey butt, because NEVER has Pak'nSave or any other New Zealand supermarket made our glutey bread super cheap.

$7.99 for a loaf of gluten-free bread that's roughly half the size of regular bread is just outrageous.

My husband has a theory that food allergies are only for wealthy people, because poor people couldn't possibly afford to eat if they had food allergies.

He has a point.

Why is allergy-friendly food so expensive?

A couple of reasons. Allergy-free food has to be prepared and cooked in facilities that are allergy-free, and because of our small population and even smaller allergy-free population, it's hard to get the same economies of scale you can get with regular food.  

In relation to gluten-free food in particular, the cost increases because gluten-free ingredients are expensive - wheat is cheap, especially when compared with gluten-free alternatives.

Plus, unlike wheat, gluten-free mixes require additional ingredients to get the same stretchiness that gluten provides to wheat.

So what can you do to reduce the cost of eating allergy-free?

1. Get back to basics

Cook like you're in the 1950s. Avoiding packaged food and eating whole foods will save you a mint. Be prepared to spend extra time in the kitchen though.

2. Buy ingredients in bulk

This is particularly cost-effective if you can share a bulk order with others. Make sure you're careful if buying from bulk bins - some bulk bins are contaminated with other unsafe ingredients.

3. Investigate funding options

There are subsidies available for people with diagnosed food allergies. Some of these subsidies are income tested, some aren't.

4. Look outside the allergy-free aisle

Many allergy-free foods aren't tucked away in the 'aisle of ridiculous expense'. There are many allergy-free foods mixed in with regular food, and they're half the price. Be sure to check the label and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

So do you have to be wealthy to be allergy-free? No. But it sure helps.

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