Gluten-Free Shopping in Ethnic Grocery Stores

My local grocery store has made a strong commitment to gluten-free foods, and I am hoping this is a serious change in corporate thinking versus a short-term fad. I certainly do my best to make sure their investment is worthwhile, and, based on my regular perusal of the dedicated GF section, I’m not alone.

However, sometimes mainstream stores charge crazy prices for foods just because they’re labelled “gluten-free”. Very often, these same foods are available at ethnic grocery stores at a far more reasonable price.

For example, I go to my local Asian grocery store for rice noodles, interesting vegetables, and rice paper wrappers. Oh, and gluten-free soy sauce (tamari), a product my local grocery stores stocks on an inconsistent basis; while this store serves a primarily Chinese clientele, it features an array of foods from other countries include Japan and Korea. I wrote about a shopping expedition to this store here. And here is the recipe for the amazing spicy Thai-inspired dish featuring Korean rice cakes I made that night.

I think I’ve addicted a dozen people to these delicious, chewy rice cakes.

I head out to my Indian grocery store for great deals on spices — cumin! coriander! — I use frequently. The Mexican store down the street is my source for a chile-lime seasoning that makes my grilled corn addictive. I also pick up masa harina at this store.

I should also note that I am lucky enough to live in a largely Armenian neighborhood; I don’t bother making my own hummus for parties anymore. There are four places within a five minute walk that do a better job than I ever will. I just bring a large bowl, and they fill it with amazing flavor. I also get saffron for a great price. Oh, and tahini. I love tahini.

As with any grocery store, it’s important to pay close attention to labels. The FDA in the United States has recently moved to increase safety for imported foods. More accountability throughout the food supply chain is being introduced, and imported foods will be held to the same standards as foods produced in the States.

Moving beyond the traditional (American) grocery store yields great flavor and savings opportunity for those of us who are gluten-free. Tell me about your experiences!

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