In the spirit of Laura’s most recent post, I’d like to ask a semi-related question:

Do you ever feel like you’re being taken advantage of because of celiac disease?

Because sometimes, I do. I know that we’re a bit more “difficult” to take care of than a typical restaurant guest. Gluten-free pasta means boiling a separate pot of water. Gluten-free flours cost more. Keeping a dedicated fryer and a clean prep surface takes resources. And on and on and on.

And yet – there are times when I am totally jazzed about going to a restaurant that promises to cater to gluten-free diners, until I find out that there’s a 30% surcharge on my sandwich. Or that for the price of the markup on my single serving of gluten-free pasta, I could buy a pound of the stuff in the supermarket. Somehow, it just doesn’t taste as good anymore.

I think I'm still going to be hungry...

I think I'm still going to be hungry...

Am I being ungrateful? Maybe. There are definitely times when the cost is easy to justify: the gluten-free item is a difficult one to make at home, or an especially delicious one. There are also times when the cost is nominal, or at least in line with expectations.

And then there are times when I look at the food on my plate and want to say, “This is it?! You call this a favor? Nevermind, I’ll eat when I get home.”

I wonder if the restaurants that tack these gluten-free surcharges on have done actual cost-benefit analysis, and determined that they need to cover costs this way? Or – and this is my suspicion – if many of them simply realized they could charge more, so they do.

The same is true of grocery items. I know I’ve crossed a few things out of my gluten-free grocery guide after trying them out.

It’s always a gamble; slowly and over time, you learn which items are worthy of the occasional splurge (hello, frozen gluten-free pizza + movie + wine + pajamas with elastic waistband) and which only have worth as hockey pucks (goodbye, many storebought gluten-free dinner rolls and individually packed “chewy” cookies).

If I reach back into the far corners of my wrinkly mind, to my college economics classes, I know that prices will stabilize as supply and demand reach equilibrium. Right now, the demand for something, anything, gluten-free is outsize: some people can get away with highway robbery.

Supply and DemandI suppose it’s a matter of waiting, and voting with dollars. Where do you cast your vote? I don’t want to trash-talk any specific gluten-free offerings, but what sort of frustrating experiences have you had?