Yesterday, I was offered up a Shimmer of hope as I strolled up and down the aisles of our local grocery store. For the first time EVER, I came across a tub of lactose-free cottage cheese, which for a born and raised Ukrainian girl who grew up on the likes of such, was more than a welcome find. After all of these years of searching, asking, and waiting, finally here it was in the flesh, so to speak. In fact, after excitedly wrapping both of my hands around the green and white container, it took EVERYTHING in me to refrain from announcing my long overdue discovery to the innocent couple beside me, let alone from shouting it down the aisles for all to hear. You see, here in the northern throes of Canada, wherein various specialty products seem slow to arrive (maybe delivery by dog sleds takes awhile? kidding!) there FINALLY seems to be ‘some’ acknowledgement in the need for lactose-free items for those of us who fall ill to the MANY hidden sources of the nasty sugar found in milk ingredients.
Indeed, the past year or two, I have been thrilled to notice the odd new item show up on shelves and/or the freezer section of major grocery chains who dare to provide necessary alternatives for those of us who suffer from this extremely common food intolerance. How common is it exactly, you ask? Well, according to the National Library of Medicine, “Approximately 65 percent of the human (world’s) population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.” Interestingly enough, the 35% of the population who can tolerate lactose is reported to be thanks only to a genetic mutation over the past 20,00 years. Knowing this information, my question is and has long been, ‘Why has it taken so long for food manufacturers to address this issue?’ contrary to the immediate response that seems to have been given to those with gluten intolerance. Ironically, by means of statistics, prevention.com claims that the “CDC (Celiac Disease Center) data shows that only 1% of the population has gluten sensitivity.” Compare that percentage to the aforementioned 65%, and that’s a whopping 64% difference in persons with sensitivities and yet, the gluten-free market has literally exploded over the past few years, so much so that there are literally aisles and menus dedicated to customers/patrons who do not consume gluten. Now, you would think that in a society where marketing and consumerism is at an all-time high that products which could benefit 65% of people vs. 1%, would be awfully appealing when it comes to good old dollar and cents in business. Yet, nada! When I shop or go to restaurants, I am lucky to find one or two products that suit my needs versus the plethora of gluten alternatives. Perhaps, I am simply not well-versed enough in the psychology behind sales because I am thinking that there are billions to be made off of the backs of those of us missing the infamous lactase enzyme. (Hmmm….maybe I should look into this market a little bit more myself?! Afterall, who couldn’t use a few billion dollars? I think I hear a lanai in Hawaii calling my name now….)
Meanwhile, however, I will focus on the good and that is my lonely tub of cottage cheese proudly purchased and consumed twice since yesterday:-). Yum and most importantly, another protein source! And, to give credit where credit is due, here is a picture of my revered cheese container, along with the other FOUR (yes, count them to be sure! five altogether:-) grocery items which happily adorn spots in our refrigerator/freezer, thanks to the manufacturers/shippers/grocers who have made them available. Merci! Merci! Merci!