By CARL SAMPSON
It used to be that mentioning politics or religion was something to avoid in polite company.
Add food to that list. Sometimes, that four-letter word is enough to set off a tirade about all that's wrong with what we eat. Writers such as Michael Pollan have made careers out of criticizing what I just ate for lunch.
And that's OK. In America, free speech is just that. A person has a constitutional right to spout off about food or any other topic.
But, please, don't try to dictate how the other 313 million Americans should eat.
Kara Rowe recently tried to start a conversation about gluten on an online blog. She works for the Washington Association of Wheat Growers and comes from a family of wheat farmers, so all things wheat, including gluten, hold a position of importance in her life.
She decided to skip foods that contain gluten for a month to see what happened.
What she has found through her blog is that most people are curious about her experiment, but a vocal few are sure that any food with gluten is a curse on humanity.
"You are married into the wheat world and your family sells illness to people everyday," one gentle soul wrote to her.
I recently tried not eating gluten. In fact, I gave up wheat, sugar and dairy for a month. This was not a scientific experiment. I was just curious.
Did I notice any huge changes? No. In fact, I didn't notice many small changes, either. I didn't lose weight. Mind you, I wasn't fasting, and there's plenty of food that doesn't contain wheat, milk or sugar.
The only thing I noticed was, at the end of the experiment, I ate too many chocolate Easter eggs.
What did my experiment prove? For me, it didn't prove much. I felt pretty much the same, as I apparently don't have sensitivities to those foods.
My point isn't that wheat, sugar and milk are good or bad. For me, they are good -- as long as I don't scarf down 75 chocolate Easter eggs.
For other folks, I really can't say. I know people have sensitivities, allergies and other medical conditions that mean they can't eat gluten or other foods. They should avoid those foods.
But they should also refrain from arguing that I, or Kara -- or anyone else -- should or shouldn't eat a particular food.
If someone wants to eat, or not eat, any food, be my guest. But, please, don't tell me how to eat or try to argue that a food should be banned because you can't eat it.
My mother used to have a saying, "All things in moderation."
When it comes to food, that's still good advice.