When I first had to give up wheat in 1997 the choice of wheat free or gluten free foods was absolutely disgusting. You could hammer nails in with the bread, the cookies crumbled on being touched and tasted like dust, and pasta was limited to corn pasta. I used to look through a depressing range of items in the local health foodstore weekly hoping for something to sooth those cravings.

Move on a couple of years and supermarket chains started to get the idea that wheat/gluten free diets were a potential big money earner. Some created Free From ranges offering a better alternative to the horrible gluten free foods that were currently available. This galvanised the original gluten free food manufacturers to raise their game; all of a sudden they were competing against supermarkets who were now selling some very tasty ranges of allergy aware foods.

If you're shopping for wheat/gluten free foods many of the large chain supermarkets have a 'Free From' or 'Gluten Free' section. However, labelling changes in some countries mean manufactureres have moved away from "gluten free" to instead stating "no gluten containing ingredients" which also means that a lot of gluten free foods have now been integrated into the mainstream items on the shelves; this makes checking packet information more time consuming, but it does open up the range of items potentially available.

For example, on a UK visit I wanted to pick up a readymade curry, the store no longer had a 'Free From' area and an assistant explained that I now needed to pick up every curry in the chiller cabinet and check the back to see its allergy status, because "more of their products were now labelled free of gluten containing ingredients".

IMPORTANT: "Free of gluten containing ingredients" isn't the same as "certified gluten free", though it is an indication that the product may be safe to eat. You still need to check for any additional notes pertaining to cross-contamination, e.g. "this product has been manufactured in a plant that also processes wheat" etc. So, if you are in a supermarket and can't find the gluten free food section then don't despair, it may be that the product you want is with the mainstream products—they just made it harder to find.

Everytime I visit the UK my go-to supermarket is Tesco, their Free From section is superb. Amazing breads, pastries, pies, cakes (even Jaffa cakes!), cookies, chocolate treats, main meals, the list could go on. It makes my return to Canada's gluten free shopping somewhat depressing when I view the less than exciting gluten free products in the Canadian supermarkets. Sobey's do import some good gluten free breads... from Ireland, UK. But mostly there is very little interest in manufacturers making a wide range of good gluten free products... and the rice bread bricks are still on sale though beats me who'd be desperate enough to eat those. And any manufacturer that insists you have to bake or heat their bread products before they are edible should wake up to the 21st Century consumers needs.