Might sound gross, but fermentation makes foods more nutritious, as well as delicious. Fermentation is a process where microscopic organisms transform food and extend its usefulness.
Fermentation is found historically throughout human cultures, and while the art of fermentation had never died, the practice of looking after your own live ferments has largely disappeared from not only the western diet, but also the way we live our western lives. Hundreds of medical and scientific studies confirm what folklore has always known: Fermented foods help people stay healthy.
Many of your favorite foods and drinks are probably fermented. For instance: Bread, Cheese, Wine, Beer, Cider, Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Salami, Miso, Tempeh, Soy Sauce, Vinegar, Yogurt, Kefir and Kombucha.
Fermenting food is one of our greatest medicinal tools to keep pathogens away, increase the bodies vitality, and slow the aging process. Tiny microorganisms have the ability to preserve our food, increase nutritional value and boost our immune system. 80 % of our immune system lives inside of our digestive tract and is comprised of trillions of bacteria.
Bacterial Breeding Ground
Nurturing the beneficial bacteria in our colon is a key in creating vitality and health within ourselves. This is where fermented foods play a key role in nurturing the good bacteria, as they inoculate our digestive tract with microorganisms form our environment. They replenish and condition the beneficial bacteria and keep the pathogenic bacteria in check.
Without this checks and balance system, our bodies fall prey to sickness and disease. Bringing live cultured foods into our diet is one of the most important dietary choices we can make for ourselves. You don’t have to be an experienced chef or have a lot of food knowledge to make live ferments, just a little time, preparation and patience are needed. Once you have experienced the excitement of making your own fermented foods, you won’t be able to turn back!
The demise of fermented foods from the western diet is largely thought to be much to the detriment of our health and economy. This is because fermented foods are a powerful aid to digestion and a protection against disease; and because fermentation is, small scale and an artisanal process, without demand small producers die out.
The taste for fermented foods is usually an acquired taste. I’ll bet you’d never be caught dead eating fermented tofu crawling with worms, which is relished in parts of Japan, or bubbly sorghum beer, smelling like the contents of your stomach, which is downed by the gallons in parts of Africa. But then, few Africans or Asians can enjoy chunks of rotten milk (otherwise known as cheese) that we love so much!
Luckily for all, there is an underground fermentation movement bringing back these easy, time old processes. Starting out by making yogurt, cheese or bread is a safe and not too challenging first ferment. You could try our fabulous honey and walnut loaf to start with best served with some runny cheese.