Shopping and a little socializing at celiac-friendly Wegmans

With a great deal of anticipation, having heard good things, I finally visited a newly opened Wegmans in my area. I circled the parking lot before giving in that I would never find a spot remotely close to the entrance, and parked the car a baseball field away. No problem, I sprinted to the entrance and crossed off 10 minutes of cardio for the day! I found a coffee bar within, grabbed my 2nd cup and began contemplating how I was going to maneuver my shopping cart through the throngs of shoppers already there. Expected I guess, considering Thanksgiving is just a few days away. With patience and a holiday spirit I pushed my shopping cart forward, smiling, into the endless sea of Wegman shoppers. I lingered a bit by the Asian/sushi bar, and then quickly passed through the baked goods section, which was chock full of gluten-filled goodies. Exhaling … I began picking up items looking for the gluten-free labeling, and was pleased to find many were. Pepperoni, freshly ground sausage for stuffing, a variety of hummus, all clearly marked gluten-free.  I was also glad to see a USDA certified Organic section of meats and poultry and also a line of “Food You Feel Good About” products which are free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils, (these may or may not be certified Organic or gluten-free). I inquired if there was a designated gluten-free section and was pleasantly directed to “Natures Marketplace”. My thoughts initially were – unimpressed.  I quickly discovered however that, in addition to the designated “gluten-free” area, there are loads of gluten-free items scattered throughout the store. I’m not sure this is the most logical way to display GF items, but that is how it is set up nonetheless.  So, if you visit be sure to go up and down each aisle and you will soon discover even more familiar brands of gluten-free items, as well as the Wegman gluten-free brands. To easily identify which Wegmans brand items are gluten-free, just look for the little “G” symbol on the product.  Tags are also placed sporadically on the shelves to identify gluten-free items, though I found many items with a “G”, were not anywhere near a gluten-free tag.  Jars of olives, peppers, pickles, marinades and more, all gluten-free. So keep perusing the aisles for the product you want, then check to see if it comes in a Wegmans brand and then look for the “G” symbol.

Having celiac, I find the gluten-free aisle of a market a great venue for striking up a conversation with others on a similar celiac journey. I’ve chatted with numerous celiacs, parents of celiacs, and many who are gluten-sensitive. I’ve learned from them and they have learned from me. Today I met “E”, whose granddaughter was diagnosed with celiac at the tender age of 2. When most people are thinking about retiring to some sandy shore, spunky “E”, at the age of 62, is embarking on a career as a rep for a new gluten-free bakery, out of her passion to bring tasty bakery items to the store shelves for her granddaughter to enjoy. Lucky to be walking this beautiful earth, having survived an almost fatal ectopic pregnancy, and two bouts of breast cancer (a tumor hidden behind a tumor), if anyone can get this new company noticed, “E” can! Glad to have met you “E”!

Wegmans is big, and in the beginning I felt a bit overwhelmed trying to navigate it all, but having discovered so many gluten-free items on the shelves, I will go back. Price-wise, I did find some gluten-free items were less than Whole Foods and Stop & Shop, though the majority of items were comparable. Despite how crowded the store was, I found an exit cashier with only one person in line! If you visit, give yourself plenty of time to shop, and consider avoiding weekends if you don’t like crowds. I didn’t even get close to the Wine and Beer section, but this is available too. Feeling hungry? Pick up something freshly made (question ingredients), and enjoy it while sitting at the Market Café. On your way out (or in), grab a Wegmans “Gluten-Free – Making a Special Diet Easier to Swallow” pamphlet, which outlines a few Celiac/gluten-free facts. According to the pamphlet, Wegmans updates it’s gluten-free product listing frequently. If you go to their website you can find more than 400 recipes which are either naturally gluten-free or a gluten-free version. Also, be sure to sign up for a free Shoppers Card at Customer Service (you will need to show a license), to receive a discount on certain items, and a magazine by mail.

I don’t know much about the history of Wegmans, other than they originated in Rochester, New York. I do not know the names of the founding owners, or current corporate partners if any, but whomever you are, this celiac would like to personally thank you for making the store so celiac-friendly. Continue to add healthy gluten-free options, keep your manufacturing equipment free from gluten … and we will continue to come!

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On November 21st, 2011, posted in: CeliacCorner Blogs by
2 Responses to Shopping and a little socializing at celiac-friendly Wegmans
  1. I love Wegman’s and wish they had stores in California. I have been to the one in Syracuse, NY a couple of times and came out with bags of great food. Granted, most of it was high-carb rice/seed snacks, but the nuts/superfoods were really good, too. It was the first time I saw an entire aisle of GF items. The little partial aisle at the Raley’s near me is okay, but pales in comparison.

    I didn’t really look at the rest of the store and, based on your post, really want them to expand to the West Coast.

    I have also found myself chatting with folks in the GF aisle. I don’t normally do it elsewhere, but I go out of my way to talk to people who look like they are new to GF and see if they want help. Most people seem to appreciate that.

    • Hi Steve – glad you enjoyed the article on Wegmans! Yes, there should be one in every state! Initially I found the gluten-free area to contain about the same amount of GF food as Whole Foods, but as I explored the aisles away from the designated GF section, I found more and more options (yes, some high carb & sugar, but also other healthy options) & everything was so clearly labeled! I think they really did go the extra mile to cater to the gluten-intolerant … and I did see signs for low-sugar/diabetic items as well! Yay for Wegmans! Hope they make it to CA! I need to check out your website! Paula

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