Food allergies affect families’ eating and shopping habits more than ever before.
 
In the last 5 years, peanut allergies in children have doubled, according to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network—and the estimated number of Americans with food allergies has increased from 6 million to approximately 12 million.
 
Finding healthy and affordable options to accommodate specific food allergies can be challenging, but natural and organic food stores are doing their share to make shopping easier.
 
Whole Foods Market stores have expanded their selection of gluten-free foods to help consumers with special dietary needs. Four years ago, the chain opened a dedicated gluten-free bake house in Raleigh, NC. The facility creates more than 25 items, including pizza crusts, muffins, scones, breads and cakes.
 
“Gluten-free food is not just for children with food allergies,” says Jody Villecco, the company’s in-house nutritionist and quality standards expert. “Increasing gluten-free foods adds variety to the diet, and it also tends to decrease white, processed grains in general, which is beneficial for all children.”

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods Market