Raw, fermented foods. Kombucha.
Traditional ginger ale. Milk kefir. Water kefir.
Unpasteurized Sauerkraut. Raw Pickles.
Kimchi. Miso. Mead.
Raw pickled beets. Raw pickled carrots.
These living foods....
This is not a new thing or a new trend.
Its been happening in basements long before (my generation) were walking the earth. Almost all cultures throughout the world intentionally introduce bacteria and/or yeast into their food to transform it into a new food.
Then with the Germ Theory of disease introduced by Louis Pasteur, all bacteria became labelled as “bad” and the practice of fermenting food has been almost lost in North America. We are all scared of bacteria! Bleach! Hand sanitizer! Even though we are constantly surrounded by bacteria...... we fear it.
Now, with the research on our gut health and the trillions of bacteria that we are, we are starting to see that we need to work with bacteria, instead of always trying to kill it.
Holistic Nutritionists' are working to bring back the art & tradition of fermenting your own foods. In the last 50 years the government departments of agriculture, food, and health frowned upon traditional fermentation to the point that almost no publications instructed households how to use these fermentation methods. Instead we've learned to “put up” vegetables by adding white vinegar (really only suitable for household cleaning) and processing with heat.
This lack of cultured foods (accompanied by rampant use of antibiotics, and a high intake of chlorinated water, sugar and other toxins) has led to an imbalance of healthy bacteria in our intestines, leading to lower immune systems.
Lactic acid bacteria are microscopic organisms that are our allies in health.
"The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.” – Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
They transform food and extend its usefulness. They keep it safe and keep harmful organisms away.
And now, medical and scientific studies confirm what Birkenstock-folklore has always known: fermented foods help people stay healthy. Yes, of course people before the alternative health circles of the 60s and 70s fermented their foods, but the commune kitchens of times past can teach my generation about these lost practices. They were anti-processed foods and anti-commercial foods in the window of time when processed foods & fancy TV dinners were getting huge.
Plus, we are in total admiration of this crunchy glimmer in time, it’s the 60s all over again and we're all shopping vintage, wearing essential oils and not shaving, right?
The health circles back then promoted that these traditionally-prepared foods were good for our digestion. We know now it's the gut-friendly probiotic bacteria such as (but not limited to) lactobacillus. Our large intestines need this bacteria to maintain health, and for digestion, so that nutrients can be absorbed. Eating fermented food helps to create beneficial micro flora in the intestines of people that eat them, which helps our body absorb nutrients from our food better, among many other benefits.
Fermented foods are more than the sum of their parts. Sauerkraut, for example, is simply cabbage and salt. Once fermented, and the enzyme activity is much more than that of just raw cabbage. These fermented foods also help with the manufacture of Vitamin K that happens naturally in healthy intestines. (Read our view on over-use of supplements here!)
Fermented vegetables and elixirs are “alive”. We need more raw, alive food in our diets.
Fermented foods are important for our food security. It is a method of food preservation that allows us to put fresh food away for the winter. This was the original storage technique, before we had refrigeration.
Fermented foods put us in more control, by processing and preserving our own local foods at home we decrease our dependency on unsustainable food systems and multi-national corporations.
It's a powerful movement to create your own foods, taking a stand against the system... join the food movement! [Join the Okanagan’s Fermentation group online]
Now, go forth and get back to your roots.