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  • Writer's pictureJerry Della Femina


It started about five years ago and now just about everyone I know, including members of my family, have decided they’re gluten intolerant.

This means they can’t eat pasta, bread, pizza, bagels, pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, cookies and soy sauce.

You know, all the foods that make life worth living.

But here’s a warning: Never question a person who says they are gluten intolerant, because they’ll cut your heart out for doubting them.

They will have you believe that removing gluten has saved their life.

And in case you wonder what their life was like before they went gluten-free, they will say that the major part of their life was spent sitting on a toilet.

This is confusing because a few years ago, no one had ever heard the word “gluten,” and now it’s the magic word in every food store.

It’s replacing “fat free,” the magic words 10 years ago.

The truth is only one out of every 133 people has celiac autoimmune disease, and they should avoid gluten, but that doesn’t explain the astronomical rise in the number of people who have pronounced that they are gluten intolerant without taking any tests.

Gluten freaks are almost as disgusting as vegans. I love to torture vegans by saying, “Sometimes when I bite into a carrot I can hear it screaming.”

I have a problem with people who deprive themselves of delicious foods because they have fallen for a fad.

I also have a problem eating any food that will make me healthier because I prefer stuffing my mouth with delicious food and drink that I know is “bad” for me.

My record with healthy foods is abysmal, so I know health foods aren’t for me. My question is: Are they for anyone? Is this a big scam? Next to religious fanatics, health food fanatics are the most frightening of fanatics.

Many, many years ago I went to what I believe was the first health food restaurant in New York City. It was called Brownies. I sat at the counter and looked at the menu. It had soybean cutlet, pseudo-chicken chow mein, chili no carne and vegetarian chicken liver.

I gagged. Then I looked at the waiters and waitresses who served and ate that stuff. Their skin was so pale it looked like they were ghouls living in damp cellars and they had never been out in the sun. They all had enormous pimples. Not just good old-fashioned acne, but out-and-out purple, pimply pizza faces that had been deprived of the salt, butter and chemicals that makes your skin healthy. I got up and fled before they could turn me into one of them.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of the life span of people who work in or frequent health food stores. Do you know any 90-year-old health food fanatics? I don’t.

Over the years I’ve tried to strike a good balance while consuming plenty of salt, olive oil, delicious fatty steak, pasta, wine and vodka, as well as methylcyclopropene, astaxanthin, aspartame, benzoic acid/sodium benzoate, hydroxyanisole, canthaxanthin, potassium bromate and that good old standby, high-fructose corn syrup.

Lately it’s been tough to find foods that are bad for me. I can’t stand walking into a supermarket anymore.

There’s no stopping the food police. They are relentless and they have crushed the food companies and corpulent America.

They have single-handedly destroyed the hamburger, insisting that every supermarket only offer 80% “lean” hamburger meat, which results in hamburgers that taste like hockey pucks.

The food police have even destroyed the joy of cooking.

The other day I went to the supermarket looking for a lousy can of chicken broth. When I cook pasta I like to take a can of Campbell’s Chicken Broth and boil away the water so I’m left with a few salty, fatty tablespoons, which I add to my tomato sauce. It adds a nice flavor to the sauce.

However, as I walked up and down the supermarket aisle (the Campbell’s Soup section is the size of my first apartment), there was no good old-fashioned salty Campbell’s Chicken Broth to be found. No, all they had was tons of Campbell’s Low Sodium junk. The Campbell’s Soup empire was built on salt and water and some chicken fat. Take away the salt and all you have is water and a few drops of chicken fat. UGH!

This got me walking from aisle to aisle checking the labels. It was “gluten-free” this, “gluten-free” that, “fat-free” this and “low-carb” that and “low-sodium” everything. Low-sodium anchovies…olives in water instead of oil…tuna in water instead of olive oil…

It’s a labeling scam. I read labels proclaiming fat-free pasta and corn flakes and Melba toast. Was there ever fat in these products? No, but “fat-free” are the magic words. So are “low-carb,” and now along comes “gluten-free.”

So I tell you, it’s a war between the food police and me.

Let me also add how much I dislike those creepy “My Diet Will Save Your Life” authors/doctors, like Dr. Robert Atkins and the late Dr. Herman Tarnower. (I must admit I was secretly happy when Tarnower’s girlfriend Jean Harris shot him for being unfaithful. She got 20 years. Instead, I would have given her a medal and a good meal.)

The truth is, I will never give up. I will eat plenty of fat, plenty of salt, plenty of carbs, and I will drink to excess.

Let me put all this in the proper perspective for my gluten-free friends and relatives.

You’re living in a world where Vladimir Putin’s army is being stopped by tough, courageous Ukraine (which is the St. Peter’s University of countries). Once Putin figures out that his army sucks, the only thing that stands between Putin dropping a nuclear bomb on us is Joe Biden.

Can you imagine sleepy Joe Biden warning Putin?

“If you drop some ‘sneak nukes’ on our country and I survive, let me tell you, the next day I will report you to the United Nations and then I will retaliate with the mother of all financial sanctions.”

My dear friends, are you sure you don’t want to treat yourselves to a “goodbye, cruel world” slice of pizza?

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