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Gluten-Free Germany

September 2012

By Ariston Anderson, Berlin

In many ways, it seems like the gluten-free movement of today has replaced the low-fat movement of the 90s. Health and science have found an enemy, supported by numerous mainstream diets-- with hardcore names like Paleo, Primal and Raw-- as well as wispy celebrities tweeting their aversion to the grain. The gluten-free movement has swept the U.S. with devotees swearing that the removal of gluten from their diets has cured everything from skin breakouts to indigestion woes. The range goes from mild sensitivity to serious cases of celiac disease. Everyone from Whole Foods to Nabisco is making products for this niche. 

One should think that Germany would be an exception. It’s a land where people know how to eat rich and eat well-- on beer, bread and cheese-- and then work off the calories on a hike, bike ride, or soccer field. Yet the gluten-free supermarket trend is growing faster in Berlin than in any U.S. city. Seemingly overnight, stores have entire sections devoted to the gluten-less. I have many a friend who was advised by their doctor to try and go without it. I was similarly advised by a doctor, but after trying both ways found it made little difference either way. 

Fortunately for celiacs, Germany isn’t the worst place to live. One of my favorite new restaurants, Sauvage, has created an entirely Paleo-friendly menu with a nut bread that is more delicious than any fluffy white pretzel. Unfortunately for the fad-obsessed, stores are brimming with packaged goods loaded with sugar and preservatives, not unlike their allegedly good-for-you, low-fat predecessors (remember Snackwells?).

Werz, the healthiest of the bunch, makes cookies, waffles and cereals without sugar. When chewed, they have the consistency of hot gravel. Schar, the largest manufacturer, mimics normal biscuits and digestives. Their high-calorie snacks are delicious, yet lacking in nutrition. 3 Pauly finds a happy medium with tasty crackers and sweets that accommodate a range of food allergies.

And it would be borderline anti-patriotic if Germany didn’t have a good gluten-free beer. Fortunately, there are several good options on the market. Try Neumarkter Lammsbrau for an organic version, Schnitzer Brau for a traditional German wheat flavor and Liebharts for a dark brew. 

Retail & Dining
Liquor, Beer & Wine
Health & Fitness
Food & Drink

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