By Alan Klapperich, Branch Manager – GIG of East Central WI
Once upon a time, in a kingdom not so far away, lived a strong and handsome knight. Like all knights of his time Sir Alcher was sworn to uphold the values of faith, loyalty, courage, and honor; a task he took seriously. Behind every great knight is a great lady; Lady Pechal was no exception. While her job was not as adventurous as her husband’s, it was just as important. Knight Alcher’s job was protecting everyone else, Lady Pechal’s task was to watch over her husband; to make sure that he was healthy and happy. Do not be fooled by her aptitude in the culinary arts; she could wield a broadsword as easily as a ladle. A protector for the protector; an important job indeed!
Sir Alcher was known all throughout the land for his physical prowess and dragon slaying skills. Snatching the king’s daughter from the claws of such a beast earned the knight a considerable amount of fame and honor as well as gratitude from the king. However, despite his extraordinary skills, the knight could feel his powers slowly slipping away from him. He knew something was wrong. He would’ve sworn he quaffed a bit too much of the king’s ale and wine every night; but this did not happen, Lady Pechal made sure of it. The brave knight did his best to fight the evil spell, but it was just too powerful. His innards felt as if he had swallowed a fire-breathing monster. He feared he too would be breathing fire; perhaps this was the beast’s revenge for all the slayings? Battles required the utmost focus and concentration; a single lapse could cost him his life! How could he protect the kingdom if he was constantly sick, tired and grumpy? The steady downhill decline was very troublesome not only to him, but also Lady Pechal and their king.
After much persistence, Lady Pechal was successful in getting the ever-stubborn knight to see a doctor. In fact, he saw many doctors in the kingdom. Each one applied their wisdom in an effort to fix the suffering knight, but none of them were successful. A peculiar thing, others in the kingdom suffered similarly. Knight Alcher continued to get sicker, wasting away before everyone’s eyes. The demon was slowly consuming him and the others. One night after dinner the knight found himself doubled over shivering, sweating and aching. He did not expect to see the light of dawn. It was then that he remembered meeting a curious being during one of his travels.
Roderick the Wizard lived far away in another kingdom. No one knew much about the reclusive wizard except that he spoke with a different accent and was generally thought of as “off center” or “completely mad”. Unlike others, the knight did not fear him. Just maybe Roderick was the one to help. The knight was willing to try anything to restore his life.
After several days of hard journey Sir Alcher made it to the wizard’s home; exhausted almost to death. Once inside they sat down and Roderick began to actually listen to the knight. Taking in and processing all that was revealed to him. After a bit of pondering Roderick silently got up and disappeared into his massive library. It was filled with ancient manuscripts, charts, scrolls and maps – everything imaginable and few things beyond imagination.
Sometime later Roderick emerge with a slight smile and a stack of manuscripts. He uttered words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates – “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”. The wizard asked the knight if he ever considered food his enemy. Perplexed by the rather odd question, Sir Alcher replied no and asked why. Sharing wisdom beyond his years, the wizard explained to the knight that mortals get sick because their bodies revolt against offending foods like angry peasants against an oppressive king. The knight thought about when he felt the worst – yes, it was after he had eaten! Things started to make sense now.
Roderick continued to explain that many foods might make the knight sick, but they were going start with the biggest offenders. He suggested Alcher not eat food made from wheat, barley, rye and oats because they contain a substance called gluten. This meant no breads, no biscuits, no beers or ales. Wheat, barley and rye are the three main crops grown by farmers of the kingdom. By now Sir Alcher’s head was spinning faster than a windmill grinding wheat on a windy day. Dazed and confused, the knight asked Roderick how he was supposed to know all of this? Roderick smiled and told Alcher not to fear for he would teach him everything while he was recovering. You see, doing what wizards do and knowing what wizards know; Roderick knew that gluten was behind much of the sickness in kingdom. Over the course of several weeks, the wizard generously shared his knowledge of medicine, food & nutrition. Alcher learned that every mouthful matters when it comes to nutrition and every skerrick [the wizard’s term for a speck, a crumb, a very small amount] must be removed; only gluten-zero will do – no gluten – ever.
Alcher’s health steadily improved during his stay with Roderick. Mental sharpness, physical strength and stamina were all beginning to return. The noble knight was starting to feel like his old self again. At first, Alcher was skeptical about Roderick’s claims about the effects of gluten. How could “the bread of life” be in fact “the bread of death”? Roderick explained that no human is equipped to properly digest gluten.
It was time for Alcher to leave the safety of the wizard’s gluten-zero home. He was now well enough to survive the journey back home and well armed; this time with knowledge instead of weapons. His horse was loaded with parchments and manuscripts full of recipes and nutrition information, exotic gluten-zero flours and planting seeds for gluten-zero grains. before heading out Alcher again thanked Roderick for all of his help. The wizard graciously accepted Alcher’s praise but told him it was not necessary; Roderick was simply doing his part to fulfill destiny. Alcher looked puzzled. Roderick revealed to Alcher that the knight had been chosen because of his skill set. Chosen? Chosen for what Alcher wondered? The knight had been called to a new mission as a gluten slayer instead of a dragon slayer. There are many sick people in the kingdom and he must help them. Gluten is a bigger and far more dangerous adversary than any dragon. Roderick pointed out to Alcher that he battled and won against gluten; he knows what it takes to win. With this new piece to the puzzle, Sir Alcher sets off on his journey to a new destiny. Godspeed Sir Alcher, good luck in creating a Gluten-Free Kingdom.