Stereotypes are not only regressive, they’re pretty boring and hacky to joke about, too. But that won’t stop at least one uncle from poking fun at “Tofurky Millennials” once dinner hits the table this Thanksgiving. In recent years, gluten intolerance in particular has become synonymous, in some social circles, with bleeding-heart hippie liberals who can’t handle a little bread, while across the aisle, Republicans are viewed as red meat obsessives who wouldn’t touch kale with a 10-foot pole. Now, new research shows that these stereotypes are both equally wrong.
Trey Malone of Michigan State University and fellow food politics researcher Bailey Norwood of Ohio State wanted to investigate our cultural demonization of gluten. Among their findings was data that showed gluten sensitivity “affects people of all political persuasions.”
Their survey asked 1,086 American consumers about their perceptions of gluten, and asked each person to rate themselves on a “gluten aversion index” to find out who is actually avoiding gluten, regardless of their clinical sensitivity or allergy to it. “Contrary to the common stereotype,” said Malone, “we found no evidence that the political left is more likely to report being gluten sensitive.” Not only that, but the group that selected Donald Trump as their preferred president of the past few decades was the group with the most reported gluten insensitivity.
The timing of these findings feels opportune: Released just before the holidays, when many of us will strain to find common ground with family, the data serves as a nice reminder that, at least where protein-related stomach aches are concerned, we’re all more alike than we are different. (Hey, it’s something.)