February 27, 2014

Amy's story: Zero Waste with Celiac

Today is a guest post by Amy Sjoquist, who provides tips on combining waste-free and gluten-free living. Please use the comments to share your experience or ask questions on the subject.


Hi to everyone out there who is interested in stewarding our beautiful earth and living simply.
When I came across an interview that Bea gave about her Zero Waste home, I knew that I had just found truth and it required me to do the right thing. Immediately after reading the interview, I hopped on this website, and started the immersion into the Zero Waste lifestyle. But quickly encountered a stumbling block: I have Celiac disease.  How was I supposed to go all in when I have to buy bulk food and I can’t just get 10 baguettes to store in the freezer for the week?  Celiac disease is a very serious illness, and the risk of contamination from buying bulk food is enough to put some of us into a terrifying panic. But I found that I don’t have to renounce the zero waste lifestyle! The key to a gluten-free zero waste lifestyle boils down to taking a few precautionary measures and finding the perfect flour mix (my recipe tastes great and  is super cheap!)

Here are my zero waste tips for people with Celiac:
  • Make sure your item of choice has been manufactured gluten-free and that its bulk bin is placed far away from a gluten-related product (this may mean going to several stores, which is annoying, but eventually you’ll figure out the good ones) 
  • Ask the store about possible contamination when refilling the bulk bins
  • If you are buying gluten ingredients for a family member, get that last, and make sure it is completely separated from your bulk purchases (this can be a problem when using cloth sacks with draw strings because particles can get down there – easy to solve if the gluten goes on the bottom of the cart, and the gluten-free on top)
  • Talk to the store managers you frequent.  Let them know about your desire to do zero waste with a gluten-intolerance.  Suggest moving the bulk bins around, creating a separate gluten-free bulk section.
  • If your bulk areas have the possibility of contamination, try going without bread or pasta, while you talk to the store managers about rearranging the bulk bins.  Also, visit a gluten-free bakery, if one exists where you are, and get some goodies for a party, or just a special treat using your own containers.  
  • Serve yourself from the back of the bins, where contamination is least likely to happen
  • Go to the store early in the morning before the crowds, for the best opportunity to avoid contamination.
  • When travelling, remember to pack a gluten-free/waste-free snack!

Gluten-free flour mix recipe
(Use it in a one on one ratio for any flour recipe; works best in gluten-free recipes)

  • Six cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • ½ cup psylium seed husk powder
That’s it!  To go faster, I don’t even measure– I just get a bunch of brown rice flour, throw on some corn starch and some psylium powder and hope for the best!   I can now have home-made pasta (my husband is a genius with pasta), bread (I LOVE my nut-filled, cinnamon tasting bread, which I don’t make often because of time, but I can make a quick flat bread for lunches, etc.), muffins, pies, quiches, you name it.  The quality of our food is incredible, and my husband says this is the best he has eaten in his entire life – he has zero complaints!