Friday, January 8, 2010

2009 Year In Review

Overall, 2009 was a pretty great year for being Gluten Free in Raleigh. The year was indeed very busy as I put up 311 posts and had 69,225 page loads (5769 per month on average) with October peaking at 6603. We also raised $1,890 in fund raising efforts that went to various Celiac Disease or GF organizations. Lots of new and exciting information is always coming in, and I'll keep you up to date as best I can. With that being said, I'd like to recap 2009 and share my highlights and lowlights (really only just one of these - see bottom of post). I sincerely hope you enjoy reading GFR and find the information useful. I do put a lot of my spare time into this project (read: addiction) and hope the efforts are really helping you out there. This recap will also be helpful for those new readers or newly diagnosed to see what went on in 2009 and what kind of information you can count on from GFR.

Let's start off by looking at my 20 goals for 2009 post which was written at the end of 2008. I worked on some of these more than others I guess... there is always room for improvement. I'll be posting a 20 goals for 2010 write-up soon - stay tuned. If you have any ideas, please email me.

2009 Highlights (click link to read original Post)
-1st post of 2009, intro of Bella Monica Flatbread Company.
-Expansion of the Health Network, this could use some 2010 updates.
-Introduction to Jules Shepard who is featured throughout 2009 and hopefully 2010 on this blog.
-The birth of Gluten Free Durham (72 posts in 2009) and Cary (40 posts in 2009) blogs.
-The birth of the Gluten Free City Guide.

-First Jules Shepard GF Cooking Class @ Earth Fare (raised $500 - 40 participants).
-Bella Monica Italian Restaurant launches GF menu.
-The birth of Gluten Free Chapel Hill blog (36 posts in 2009).
-Delight Gluten Free Magazine publishes first issue.
-ZPizza rolls out new GF pizza.
-Gluten Free North Carolina blogs launched for various cities throughout NC .
-I am diagnosed with DH.
-Rosie's Plate launched GF Pizza.
-Interview with Bard's Beer.
-Interview with Lee Tobin of Whole Foods GF Bakehouse.
-The first rumblings of new Gluten Free products from General Mills.

-My Celiac Antibodies are normal level after 9 months on GF Diet.
-Harmony Farms Grocery Store Review.
-Gluten Free Play doh launched (Soy-yer Dough). My kid is still playing with this stuff and the creator was later featured on the ABC show "Shark Tank" where he received $300,000 to grow his company.
-Interview with NFCA Director/Founder Alice Bast.
-First boxes of GF Corn Chex and Honey Nut Chex start showing up in test markets around the USA - These products plus Chocolate Chex, Strawberry Chex and Cinnamon Chex to be widely available on June 1, 2009.
-Gluten Free Betty Crocker mixes start hitting store shelves around the US - General Mills also makes these widely available June 1st, 2009.
-I determine my estimate of the number of Celiacs in the Triangle.
-Uno Chicago Grill debuts its brand new Gluten Free pizza.
-I create my petition to the Raleigh City Council (later to Wake County) about a food allergen poster for all restaurants to educate kitchen staff about food allergies (including Gluten). Over 400 people have signed the petition to date.
-Raleigh CSA Support Group launches Yahoo Group site.
-Whole Foods holds an awesome GF Vendor Fair - I met a ton of people living GF.

-I become an official NFCA GREAT Guide and can train restaurants to properly serve GF patrons.
-Rosie's Plate store redesign and expanded weekend hours.
-Raleigh Kerr Drug store near Six Forks & Strickland becomes nations first to include "Naturally Kerr" section featuring GF foods. A second store opens later in Asheville and a third in Chapel Hill.
-First rumblings about the new GF pastry coming from Starbucks on May 1st, 2009. This product was awesome but was later discontinued by Starbucks and replaces with KIND snack bars - bummer.
-Registration opens for a fund raising run/walk event to benefit GF week at Camp Kanata. Event held in June raised over $900.
-Carolina Hurricanes end 2008-2009 hockey season (their first offering Redbridge GF beer) and serve 106 during the season.

-Celiac Vaccine is being studied which could end the need for the Gluten Free Diet treatment.
-Our most famous Celiac, Elisabeth Hasselbeck releases new GF book, gains a lot of press for Celiac and is later sued (case dropped) for plageurism.
-Interview with Enjoy Life Foods CEO Scott Mandell.
-Study shows that Celiac Disease drugs will be a $8 Billion market by 2019.
-Starbucks officially releases GF Orange Valencia Cake to rave reviews. I probably ate about 20 of these things during their short lifespan. I know I did my part.

-Official Review of new GF Pizza @ Uno Chicago Grill.
-I discover "Celiac Crack in a bag", a.k.a Riceworks snacks.
-All the new General Mills GF yummies are officially released.
-Local resident Maria Hopper begins developing totally allergen-free pizza crusts. Hopefully more to come on this in 2010.
-Much delayed Raleigh Trader Joes' announces they will open in the fall 2009.
-My 1 year anniversary of Celiac Diagnosis.
-Ug99 threatens global wheat crop - would force everyone to eat GF?
-My day at GF Week @ Camp Kanata - one of my personal highlights of the year.

-Jules Shepard returns for another GF Cooking Class @ Earth Fare - raised $300 and had another 40 attendees.
-New At-Home Celiac DNA test available.
-Gluten Free Raleigh Dispatch publishes first issue (this will return soon in 2010).
-First ever GF Product Giveaway - hope to do more of these in 2010.
-Starbucks kills GF Orange Valencia cake.

-Gluten Free Raleigh turns 1 year old!
-Due to huge demand, Jules Shepard returns for her 3rd GF cooking class @ Earth Fare on Aug 1st.
-Rosie's Plate debutes new GF Donuts.
-Campbell's launches new GF website -
-Invited as a Wellsphere Top Health Blogger - GFR posts are republished on's Celiac page.
-GFR accepted into the Triumph Dining Affiliate Program.

-New redesign of Gluten Free Raleigh launched on September 1st after a year with the standard ugly Blogger theme. How long will this current design last? Who knows.
-Gluten Free City Guide gets an update (now includes nearly 200 Google map placemarks) to further help you in your travel to other cities in the USA/Canada.
-Moonlight Bakery debuts. More to come in 2010 I hope.
-I work with the fine folks over at the RBC Center to get Gluten Free options expanded during Carolina Hurricanes games.

-I teach my first class (Gluten Free 101) @ Rosie's Plate on 10/3 (and raise $175 in the process). I'll be teaching another one on January 23rd as well and hope to continue to do this quarterly. Call Rosie's Plate to sign up.
-A local company (This Is Beautiful) develops an awesome Food Allergen Poster to go along with my petition to the Raleigh City Council.
-Raleigh Trader Joe's opens on 10/30/09 to much fanfare.
-I appear before the Raleigh City Council to present my Food Allergen Poster petition (with nearly 400 signatures). They refer me to Wake County. Stay tuned on this, there is more to come in 2010 on this topic I promise.
-Whole Foods has another great GF Vendor Fair this month. In talking with the marketing department there, they plan on having one of these per quarter. I can imagine these are huge $ sales days for their GF products (the shelves are usually empty).
-Juno Nutrition (online database of foods) is launched.
-A second Raleigh Whole Foods is approved by the Raleigh City Council and should open in early 2011 near Six Forks and Strickland.
-I skipped the NC State Fair this year but will hopefully be able to work with Fair organizers next year to get more GF options (or at least have vendors provide ingredients statements).
-2010 GF Week @ Camp Kanata date is released... sign up now.

-Jules Shepard comes back for a 4th time to put on a GF Thanksgiving cooking class @ Earth Fare. Hope Jules can come this many times in 2010!?! Class raises over $100 for Celiac research.
-Gluten Free Triangle Meet Up group is launched by Durham resident Beth Reeves. Group now has nearly 50 members and has already had 6 meetups with 7 more scheduled. Looks like this will also turn into the birth of a Durham CSA chapter. Great job Beth!
-NC FACES and FAAN hold a run/walk fund raiser to find a cure for food allergies in Cary. The race raises over $16,000 for the cause.
-Rosie's Plate expands to Durham.
-My Osteopenia (lowered bone density) improves after being Gluten Free.
-New Commenting Policy is enacted. GFR strives to be a positive force for being GF in Raleigh.

-General Mills (you rock) launches new GF Web site and now boasts over 200 Gluten Free labeled products.
-New FTC policy for bloggers is published and will be followed here at GFR.
-New Product Testing Policy is enacted. Any products mentioned on this blog that are not packaged and labeled as GF will be subject to this policy. This will ensure that my readers get the most reliable GF information.
-Elisabeth Hasselbeck hits the Dr. Oz show and spike Celiac Disease searches on Google up nearly 400%. Love her or hate her, she is raising awareness.
-Mellow Mushroom goes Gluten Free in 2010?!?

2009 Lowlights
I usually try to make it through life without any low points, but hey they happen to everyone, right? No avoiding it. I'll be as generic as possible about this situation but I feel like I at least need to address it a little. Hopefully most of you will know what I am talking about. The situation has been discussed on other blogs that can be easily found. Thanks to those folks for sharing. In 2009, I was forced to create a Gluten Free Raleigh Scumbag of the Year Award. Hopefully we all know who this is being given to and hopefully, this is the only time the award is ever given out. I am utterly shocked and upset about what has transpired and am still having difficulty believing the situation.

I want my readers to understand one thing here - what is currently published on this blog is exactly what I want you to read and trust. If something is not written about here or is written about and then removed, there usually is a reason (although sometimes I just haven't gotten around to talking to some folks). In some cases, I may not be able to share the reason for removal but the removal itself is what is important. Never in a million years do you think you'd be duped into believing something is GF when it really is not. Hopefully, my new Product Testing Policy will prevent this in the future. I have though, lost a little trust in people now which is a little sad.


Debbie Jongkind,RD,LDN said...

Great Recap of the year, still amazed at all you have discovered and creatively shared with others. You have certainly helped many live an improved gluten free lifestyle. I am honored to be blogging along with you at Gluten Free Durham!

Chris said...

Zach, from someone who was diagnosed with Celiac in 2009, let me say that your website, your classes, and your efforts are all a godsend, and are dearly appreciated.

I love the last paragraph and the title you created! But that's enough press for one scumbag, to put it nicely, so I'll leave it at that.

Here's wishing you a fantastic new year and many great blogs to come

Jules said...

Cheers to you, Zach, in this new year! Here's hoping 2010 sees a continuation of good health for you and that you can keep up the amazing work you have done for our celiac community. I echo your sentiments on the GF Scumbag ... try not to let the one bad apple spoil your enthusiasm for the cause.

I'm looking forward to coming back your way soon to do more cooking classes at Earth Fare! See you then!


marylandceliac said...

You work is impressive and inspiring! I am sure many have benefitted from you dedication! I can't believe I don't know who the scumbag is. Can you give me a hint or refer me to a blog about it? I look forward to hearing about your accomplishments in 2010!

Rebecca said...

Fun to read the "year in review" and relive lots of moments. :)

I, too, ate more than my fair share of Starbucks GF cake. We should petition them to release the recipe, at least. It was some darned good cake.

Let's hope for a 2010 that's free of candidates for the ScumBag Award.

Has anyone spotted Udi's frozen gluten-free bread in the Triangle yet? I am hearing rave reviews online about it, and I'm eager to get my hands on some.

Happy New Year!

Lauren said...

Zach - Thank you for all that you do for the celiac community in Raleigh. I have enjoyed blogging for Gluten Free Chapel Hill!

Rebecca - I've had Udi's and it's delicious. Unfortunately, I can only find it online and the shipping is about as much as the bread since it's overnighted. I wish it would come to the Triangle!

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