What’s with all the fuss around Sauerkraut, Kimchi and fermented foods in general?
A true story about food that involves our distant past, modern science and big business
1. Humans have been using fermentation to transform and preserve food for thousands of years
Without knowledge of microbes, our ancestors recognized the palatability, preservative, analgesic, and mentally stimulating or sedating qualities of fermented foods and beverages1. Every culture on earth has a tradition of fermentation.
In some countries, this tradition is gone or disappearing leaving us de-skilled and disenfranchised.
2. The micro-organisms involved in fermentation inhabit us and are a part of us
These little bugs live inside our digestive tract by the trillions. Scientists call it the Human Microbiome.
Harboring a diverse gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions and digestion problems, longer lifespan, good brain function and happiness2.
3. The modern diet of ultra-processed foods are killing our microbiome
Foods low in dietary fiber and high in fats and sugars are starving the increasingly sparse population of our gut bacteria.3
Microbes in the gut thrive on what is not bioavailable for the human body4 but our entire food production paradigm is doing the opposite.
4. “Big food” is not giving you enough choice
The top 10 companies control over 70% of what we eat and drink. To make the problem worse, the funding of many academic nutrition departments is from the food industry or its intermediaries, which helps drive research agendas.5
Live foods rich in probiotics are very hard to find in supermarkets because they’re not friendly to our modern supply chain. They are temperamental, bubbling with the activity of lactic acid bacteria (LAB).
We’ve seen this story before. Biodiversity is as desirable in our gut as it is in nature
Given the War on Bacteria so culturally prominent in our time, the well-being of our microbial ecology requires regular replenishment and diversification now more than ever.
– SANDOR ELLIX KATZ, The Art of Fermentation (2020)