By Sarah Ritchie
Just yesterday, the World Health Organization issued a report stating what most people believe—that air pollution may be filled with toxins that cause cancer. As our environments become ever-more complex and hazardous, the condition of “regular people” is most certainly impacted. While we must leave it to the scientists to untangle the particular connections between environmental factors and the health of individuals and communities, even a casual observer knows that conditions like asthma and food allergies are on the rise. Just as individual families now find themselves making lifestyle accommodations to cope with these situations, the market is responding kind, serving niche markets to provide for those with dietary restrictions, be it veganism or food allergies. One case in point is the New York City-based Crumbs Bakery.
With celebrities like Elisabeth Hasselbeck drawing attention to the increasingly common condition of gluten intolerance, prepared food companies and restaurants, alike, are consciously preparing gluten-free options for consumers. Crumbs, the very popular cupcake shop and bakery with nearly 80 locations in a dozen states, recognizes that for those most severely affected by such disorders, even being in proximity to food triggers (on restaurant surfaces or kitchen items, for instance) can cause potentially severe medical consequences. So the new Crumbs bakery at 37 East 8th Avenue is a gluten-free zone—no baked goods contain the wheat-based product, providing all of their well-known cupcakes and pastries, with modified recipes. Even though the number of people with the most severe cases of gluten-intolerance (diagnosed with Coeliac Disease) may be relatively few in number, those in New York can now go to Crumbs Bakery in Greenwich Village, where the entire premises is sans gluten. As America’s population continues to grow and age, with a wider array of physical conditions prevalent (and environmental toxins remain), smart retailers understand that market segmentation to address medical conditions, new and old, is good business.