Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peas Let Me Carry on My Gluten Free Food

October is an important month in the gluten free food business. Not only does it herald the beginning of “food season,” which lasts from about October 1 through January, but it is also National Celiac Awareness Month. Our business goes crazy, and at the same time we find ourselves traveling to lots of vendor fairs, as well as sampling our products at many in-store gluten free tasting events.

Over the past couple of years, more and more local support groups have been organizing gluten free vendor fairs, and the number of attendees is skyrocketing. For us, it has become increasingly more challenging to take enough frozen product with us on a plane to sample for crowds of 800-1000 attendees or more. You know the airline checked bag regulations—a 50-pound limit, two bags, and the length, width, and height must measure 62 inches or less. Pack in 12-18 of our new 24-ounce pizzas, and there is not a lot of room left over.

A couple of weeks ago, I was planning my trip to the Wisconsin Gluten Free Vendor Fair, and I was shopping for a plane-worthy wheeled cooler ( past experience told me that I had better get another one before the winter set in—here in New England, coolers in the winter are about as scarce as batteries in a power outage.) I spied a squarish, wheeled cooler that looked like it would pass the size requirements of a carry-on. Even better, it was the perfect size to fit a dozen pizzas (minus the box) on their side.

So now I had a plan. I would check through a 50-pound cooler of bread, and carry-on a dozen pizzas. The only problem I had was that it would take me over seven hours of travel time to get to the Central Wisconsin Airport, assuming no delays or missed connections. If I put ice packs in the cooler, they would bust me at the Hartford Airport security screening gates, and I would be ice-less for the remainder of the trip. Asking for a soda with ten pounds of ice just wasn’t going to work, and besides it would melt and get very messy.

And then it occurred to me: frozen peas. Ice packs are potential explosives, but food is food. I bought five packages of frozen peas (petite ones in case I ended up eating some of them,) packed my carry-on, cued up to the screening gates, and held my breath. The peas didn’t even get a side-ways glance or a pause at the x-ray machine. The pizzas and I traveled together in the cabin, and I checked through the bread. So, the next time you need to travel with some have-to-have frozen gluten free goodies (e.g., Against The Grain’s awesome Rosemary baguettes,) pack them with frozen peas. And the next time you get impatient with the lady in front of you on the plane struggling to get her overhead baggage down, have heart. It just may be me with a dozen of the world’s best gluten free pizzas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also travel with my gluten free foods and medication that requires cooling. this is a fab idea. I usually use the gel packs that freeze solid. The key has been they have to be frozen solid to go thru security so I always worry about delays.

With more and more airlines discontinuing any gluten free meals/food we have no choice but to carry on our meals at the very least.

It's great to have additional cooling options!