Bridget Reilly’s major gluten and dairy intolerances leave her unable to enjoy classics like macaroni an cheese or a PB&J sandwich. “I can’t eat anything without having a serious reaction,” she says. “Food has never been fun for me.”
The problem prompted her to open The Bite Market in Orange County, CA (www.bitemarket.com). According to theOrange County Register,the specialty market offers a selection hand-picked for those with food allergies and other dietary restrictions. The store has been open about a year, and carries a wide range of gluten- and dairy-free foods and products free from the major food allergens, along with locally-grown produce, locally-made baked goods, and environmentally-friendly products for the home.
College student Morgan Slater, a frequent customer, says “Being at school and not having a car makes finding gluten-free food difficult. Everything in [The Bite Market] is approved, so I don’t have to spend time searching labels.” Reilly relates to the difficulty of finding ‘safe’ foods. She opened The Bite after realizing “I was driving to four different stores every week and would read labels for hours. The money and time spent were a huge inconvenience.”
According to Reilly, the major difference between The Bite and other stores is “The connection to the food we offer. We personally taste everything.” “The industry has had no choice but to adjust. As a business owner, I am flexible and open to ordering what the community needs,” Reilly said. Tiny Freeman, chairwoman of the Orange County Celiacs, a support group for those who cannot eat gluten, says “ It’s a great way to learn which products are gluten-free, while also being assured that you can eat anything in the store safely.”