Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.11.16
Stanstead, Quebec


Gluten for punishment

There have been rumours for years. This time they're true. People said it would never happen, but it's already in the works. Stanstead, Quebec, is to be the home of an industrial gluten repository.

But let's not beat around the bushel here: it's a gluten dump.

If you're not sure what a gluten dump is or why anyone would need one, think about all the gluten-free foods that have been flooding the market like yesterday's oat bran: gluten-free cereal, gluten-free cake, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free goulash, gluten-free gruel, gluten-free gluten.

They've gotten rid of the gluten all right, but where do you suppose all that gluten goes?

Gluten doesn't just disappear like your hopes of ever again fitting into your high school band uniform. Gluten has a half-life of 142 years, which is also, not coincidentally, the shelf life of a loaf of Wonderbread.

This is the problem with humanity. We're so fixated on short-term gratification and avoiding cramps after binging on a box of honey-glazed that we just don't see the big picture. Take electric cars, for example. On the one hand, we're going to reduce our reliance on gasoline, but on the other we're going to tangle up the planet in really super-long extension cords.

The same with gluten. We wanted it out, but now the food industry has a super-sized portion of unwanted, highly demonized gluten on its hands. Have you ever had gluten on your hands? Disgusting! And faced with this gluten glut, what does industry do? They pass the bucket. The buckets of gluten.

Very big buckets, it turns out. Enough to fill the abandoned Druid Granite quarry in Stanstead, Quebec, which will soon become the holding site for Glutenous Maximus Inc. Many people are saying this is the turning point for Stanstead, that gluten is exactly what the town needs to rise again. It's true that it will create jobs - - gluten must be constantly stirred, obviously. And somebody has to guard the gluten, it goes without saying. So, sure, these may be the jobs we want, but are they the jobs we knead?

First of all, what do we really know about gluten? Not much, really, but that doesn't stop us from blaming our stomach ailments on it. It is a proven fact we heard somewhere that gluten is bad for us. All of us? Probably. It's hard to say. Better safe than sorry.

And yet we're planning to flood our town with gluten? All that exposed gluten, the gluten spores floating through the air, the gluten runoff contaminating our water supply - - isn't that putting our children at risk? This is gluten! Won't it give them tummy aches? And if they get tummy aches, won't they miss school? And if they miss school, won't they drop out? And if they drop out, where will they work? The gluten dump probably, lured by the half-baked promise of making a little dough. It's a vicious, pun-filled circle.

What about safety? It has been documented in some place I can't remember (no doubt because of gluten-related memory loss) that these gluten pits attract packs of pastry chefs, among the most savage of culinary industry professionals, second only to the roaming gangs of napkins-into-swans transformers.

Also, will Stanstead be accepting only domestic gluten? Or, being so close to the border, will we be flooded by the more volatile variety from the Home of the Brave and Land of the Gluten-Free? I think I speak on behalf of all Canadians when I say we do not want Gwyneth Paltrow's cast-off gluten!

Town officials are saying that there will be economic spinoffs for the community, that secondary industries could be established to transform the gluten into building materials, McDonald's shakes, buttock implants; that tourists will flock to our Gluten Moulding Festival; that Stanstead could hold an annual Gluten Ball. But quite frankly I find these ideas hard to swallow.

Turning Stanstead into Glutenamo Bay may seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread (which is poison, by the way), but what's next? Trans-fat holding facilities? MSG pits? Carbs behind bars?

Call me gluten sensitive, but there's a reason everyone in the world is saying no to gluten. I'm not quite sure what that reason is but I bet it's a good one.

Please express your opposition to the Stanstead gluten dump on my Facebook page, Keep gluten out of Stanstead; let Ayer's Cliff, Qubec, have it.