Nothing gives me more pleasure than spotlighting my amazing friends and their successes, especially when the topic is so near and dear to my heart as fermented food is.
As a young girl, I’ve watched my Ukrainian Nana make Sauerkraut. Watched my Grandfather make Sourdough bread that he would stuff full of Beef tongue and send me to school where the other kids were eating PB and J on white wonder bread of which I was jealous and trust me no one was lining up for trade-sies with me. I know now how smart he was both with my health and with the character-building such a lunch facilitated 😉
As a young adult while travelling abroad for the first time, in Turkey I was introduced to the delicious, fizzy, salty, minty yogurt drink called Doogh made of Sheep milk. I go to great lengths to find it in specialty stores to this day.
MANY years later I still have some form of fermented food or drink daily and my body KNOWS the benefits.
But enough about me… on to my dear friend Alex.
Alex Lewin is a fermentation educator and author. He has an undergraduate degree in math and attended the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has helped create the Greater Boston Kimchi Festival; the Boston Fermentation Festival; the Boston Public Market (Boston’s first permanent, year-round, indoor, exclusively-local food market); and The Fermentation Association. He channelled the frustrated revolutionary energy of his youth into his mission: To help us seize back control of our food system! Alex Lewin has written two books about fermentation: he is the co-author of “Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond”, and is the author of “Real Food Fermentation”. “Real Food Fermentation” was the first book to provide colour, fully-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for basic fermented foods. The expanded and revised 2022 edition includes new recipes for sourdough and natto and updates the existing recipes to reflect what he has learned over the past 10 years of fermenting and teaching.
Amazon is not Alex’s favourite company, but a large spike in early orders would push his book up in their listings and lead to more sales. So if you would like to order his book, please do it ASAP. We are all in this together healing the people so we the people can heal the planet.
From Alex’s website ‘Feed Me Like You Mean It” The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods
When we say that a food is “fermented”, we generally mean that it has been transformed one way or another by microbes–bacteria, yeasts, moulds, or some combination. Moulds play a role in the creation of some kinds of cheeses and cured meats (dried sausages, for instance), along with soy sauce, among other things. Yeasts are responsible for anything that contains alcohol, either as an end product or in an intermediate stage (vinegar, for instance, and bread). Bacteria are responsible for things that are sour–from vinegar to yogurt to sauerkraut to mustard to chutneys and condiments like ketchup. Nowadays, short-cut versions of some of these foods are manufactured via processes that do not rely directly on fermentation. The health benefits of fermented foods can be broken down into a number of categories:
(1) The live microbes themselves: The bacteria responsible for some kinds of fermentation are similar or identical to some bacteria found in the human body. By ingesting these bacteria, we can strengthen our own biological processes, such as digestion and immune function. Also, in some cases, the microbes contain compounds that are beneficial to us. Some yeasts contain important trace minerals. They also contain B vitamins, even if they are dead.
(2) By-products of the fermentation: Fermentation processes often create vitamins, enzymes, and other compounds as by-products of microbe metabolism.
(3) Making foods more digestible: Certain foods contain compounds that are difficult to digest, or even toxic. Eating them unfermented can lead to gas, indigestion, or even severe illness. Some examples are legumes (especially soybeans), cassava, and cabbage. Microbes “pre-digest” these foods in ways that are helpful to us.
(4) Making nutrients more bio-available: Fermentation can break down compounds (phytic acid, for instance) that bind minerals and make them impossible for our bodies to use.
(5) Inhibiting pathogens: When we ferment foods, we create conditions under which our food becomes populated by microbes of our choice. The presence of these microbes, or their side-effects (such as increased acidity), can make it difficult for other, dangerous microbes to get a foothold.
(6) Leaving heat-sensitive vitamins and enzymes intact: Fermenting foods without heating them (before, during, or after the fermentation process) leaves vitamins and enzymes intact. Some vitamins and all enzymes are diminished or destroyed by heat.
(7) Preserving food without using industrial chemicals: Many modern preserving techniques rely on industrial chemicals. Many of these industrial chemicals are discovered to be toxic, often carcinogenic, sometimes many years after they are introduced into our food system. The health benefits of fermented foods can also be appreciated by comparing them to their unfermented cousins. Compared to raw foods, 1-5 above. Compared to cooked and/or canned foods, 1, 4, 5, 6, and sometimes 7. Compared to foods preserved in vinegar (“quick pickles” and the like): 1, 2, 3, 4, and sometimes 7. Compared to foods preserved in alcohol, like brandied cherries…well, we don’t really eat those for their nutritional benefits anyway. Compared to foods preserved with industrial chemicals…you get the picture.
You can also find Alex on Instagram @lactoferment
I’ve ordered my book.. let’s boost these sales on a book that should be in every kitchen!
~Lana Joe Salant (EOM Founder)