Author seeks to find germ of truth in gluten-free controversy

To eat or not to eat gluten — that is one of the most-asked health questions of today.

Author Stephen Yafa set out to make that question easier to answer for readers of his latest book, “Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten.”

“I didn’t go in prejudiced one way or another,” he said. “I just wanted to know what this thing is all about and whether it has any validity.”

Based in Mill Valley, California, Yafa is an author, novelist and screenwriter. He’s also a wine producer of pinot noir in the Russian River region of West Sonoma, and writes about wine for the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications.

Yafa turned his attention to gluten after his wife, Bonnie, returned from a health retreat about three years ago and announced she had a “gluten neck.”

“I waited for the punch line of the joke,” Yafa recalled. “She and I have never had any interest in fads — food fads or other fads.”

As his wife cut bread from her diet to eliminate her neck pain, Yafa began to research wheat. Although he found articles and books that agreed gluten was “Satan’s spawn,” Yafa wanted to find the answers to his own questions. Before long, a new book emerged.

Yafa explored the “true nature of wheat today” by traveling to bakeries and factories and talking with experts in the industry.

“I found it very interesting to explore,” he said.

Published in May, the book breaks down the botany of the wheat plant, the science of nutrition and digestion, the effects of mass production on health, and questions about gluten and fiber.

“I’m trying to empower people to actually know what they’re up to, as opposed to just making assumptions based on what people tell them,” Yafa said.

Yafa will be discussing his book during a lunchtime meet-and-greet book signing Aug. 5 at The Curious Fork in Solana Beach. The free event takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“A lot of people who think a non-gluten diet is healthier for them probably could use a little more information than they have,” said Yafa, who is also taking part in the Aug. 4 “BREADtalks: Sip Taste Learn” event at the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, along with Barbara McQuiston, co-founder of The Curious Fork.

“My point is to really give people back the power to make a decision about what’s good for them.”

The event is being held a little more than a year after The Curious Fork opened in Solana Beach. Co-founded by chefs McQuiston and Kai Peyrefitte, The Curious Fork opened mid-June 2014 in the Ocean Pointe complex just north of the Del Mar Racetrack at 512 Via de la Valle.

“We want to feature more authors and we want to talk about this topic, which I think is very important,” McQuiston said. “It’s very important for people to know what’s in their food.”

Although The Curious Fork is known for its organic, gluten-free food, the local eatery is also an all-in-one café, shop and cooking school, offering a variety of cooking classes, chef demos and special events, such as the upcoming book signing and discussion with Yafa.

“I want people to be curious about their food,” McQuiston said.

For information about The Curious Fork, call 855-387-3675 or visit www.thecuriousfork.com.

For more information on Yafa and his book, visit www.stephenyafa.com/grainoftruth.

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