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New Store In Burbank Caters To Gluten-Free Diets

By Lisa Sigell

BURBANK (CBS) — If you are on a gluten-free diet, you already know it's not always easy to find everything you need in one place. Well one local woman hopes to change that, one store at a time.

Grocery shopping for Catherine Cavadini was never easy.

"You have to kind of go to lots of different stores and they may have one thing, but not another," Cavadini said.

Her daughter has some learning difficulties and, as part of her therapy she is on a gluten-free, casein-free diet -- something many parents of kids with autism or behavior disorders try.

"We've noticed a big change in her," Cavadini said.

But it would take her all day and a trip across the Southland to get all the products she needed, until one store opened -- Pam MacD's Gluten Free Market in Burbank.

"Oh the response has been just wonderful. I just heard a voice yell 'thank you.' I had one woman in tears, in tears," said Pam MacDonald, the Pam that started it all.

Pam has celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder. Celiacs can get very sick if they eat foods with gluten, a protein-starch combination found in many foods.

"Gluten-free diet means you don't eat anything that has wheat in it. It's in salad dressings, French fries, you have to be careful with seasonings," MacDonald explained.

She had never owned a business before, but has put everything she has into this idea, one she believes is so needed.

"I got tired running around town looking for gluten-free products from one store to another. Then I discovered the demographic, autism, celiac, gluten intolerance, wheat intolerance, about 9 to 10 percent of the population are on gluten-free diets for medical reasons," she said.

Pam MacD's is filled with products from local gluten-free manufacturers, foods from across the U.S. and even the world. Aisles are filled with breads, cakes, sauces, soups, ice cream, cereals, salad dressings and much more.

"We pretty much have all the top line manufacturers and some items you've never heard of," MacDonald said.

The store in Burbank is the first and the only all gluten-free market that she knows of in L.A., but she plans on expanding, as more and more people decide on a gluten-free diet.

"A lot of people are becoming more and more sensitive to wheat. They may not be diagnosed with a wheat allergy, type 1 diabetes, but I've talked to a lot of people who are gluten free -- they feel better," she said.

The store provides one-on-one, personalized attention, where there is no need to read the labels; it's all safe for those who can't have gluten.

"I found wheat-free, casein-free gnocchi. I haven't had it in a long time, she'll be excited. I keep finding new things. It's great, it's a great resource," Cavadini said.

Aisles of gluten-free products, and along with the groceries comes something else, something Pam MacDonald feels is the core of the store.

"We're here to educate and we're here to guide people that there is life after wheat," MacDonald said.

Pam says for anyone who thinks gluten-free means taste free. It's not true. Maybe in the past, but now she says, in most products, you can barely tell a difference.

For more information:

Pam MacD's Gluten Free Market
3516 Magnolia Boulevard
Burbank, CA 91505

» RELATED POSTS: A Guide to Gluten-Free Bakeries and Restaurants
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