Those with gluten sensitivity are acquainted with “mystery glutenings”, unexpected and inexplicable reactions. Here are a few more possible culprits.
Do you have a container garden or are you considering starting a vegetable garden with store bought dirt? If you are gluten sensitive you need to know that Miracle Gro soils have been the cause of gluten reactions. I have some potted succulent plants and bought Miracle Gro last spring after dividing them, only to have terrible nauseous gluten reactions after repotting them into the new mix. Now I use gloves and a face mask to handle those plants. I have been glutened by airborne dirt and by dirt deep under my fingernails which leeched out later, possibly even by topical gluten. In researching, I found reports from vegetable gardeners who had used Miracle Gro and developed gluten reactions to food they had grown in their own gardens, in much the same way that some people have reactions to oats grown in the same soil as wheat. You see, gluten in the soil goes right into the flesh of whatever plants are grown in it, creating a hazardous situation for those who are sensitive. If you are a gardener growing food in Miracle Gro soil, you can make yourself or others sick. Removing contaminated soil is going to be an extremely difficult proposition, especially if it has been amended deep into the soil.
UPDATE: Ten years later, it seems that the likelihood of gluten contamination being in the flesh of the plant is low, but not completely ruled out. It’s more likely that the equipment used for oat harvesting has also been used for wheat, barley, or rye and it’s simply cross contaminated. So if you have tomatoes or something growing above ground, you should be able to wash it off. Something like potatoes or carrots you would need to clean very thoroughly. Peeling would be a good idea.
Gluten can also be found in adhesives. We might expect it in industrial glues or superglue, but you might not think about “stickum”, the substance used in lickable envelopes and stamps. These substances are not regulated and may contain gluten. If you are sensitive, I recommend using self adhesive envelopes and stamps so that you don’t need to lick them. I have been glutened doing so. Another source of gluten in schools and home offices is in stamp and ink pads, which frequently have wheat in them. This is also an in issue when ink stamps are used on the skin to gain access to an event. Gluten free stamp pads can be purchased at Discount School Supplies.
If you are gluten sensitive please feel free to share your suspicions about mystery glutenings in the comments section. I am always amazed when I suspect a product and find others who confirm my suspicions. Reactions can easily be caused by contaminated ingredients or preparation areas and equipment, even if the item is technically gluten free.
Other posts in this series include: Gluten Sensitivity: An Introduction, Gluten Sensitivity and the Artist: Avoiding Wheat Flour in Art Supplies, Gluten Sensitivity for Construction Workers, Artists, and Children: Building and Crafting Materials, and Make-up and Cleaning Products: Gluten Sensitivity On and Off the Stage.