Greetings, Friends –
Last Thursday night we had a lovely joining of folks in the Monticello Community Building to learn about The Whys & Hows of Making Fermented Foods at Home. Dr. Ann Marty started the class with some context on why gut health is so important for our overall well-being. She began with the adage that ‘Food is Medicine’ and discussed the disservice we do to our bodies when we rely on food that is primarily composed of refined white flour and sugar. These refined foods do not feed the ‘good’ bacteria, but instead help the ‘bad’ bacteria to flourish.
Ancient Chinese considered the gut to be “the center” as it influences and controls our immune system and the function of all of our organs – particularly the brain and our moods. Chemicals produced in the gut, such as serotonin and tryptophan, directly feed the brain – influencing cognition, sleep, mood, and memory. Of the trillions of bacteria in our gut, the ‘good bacteria’ produce enzymes that help metabolize our food and enable our bodies to transform and use the nutrients. You cannot receive the energy from your food if you don’t have the right enzymes. The ‘bad bacteria’ do not help metabolize our food and instead fuel the growth of yeast, fungi, and pathogens that can be very taxing on our immune system and body. Check out Paul Pitchford’s awesome talk on “Your Gut Instinct” for more info – this paragraph was synthesized from parts of his talk.
So what foods support ‘good bacteria’?! There are many – and the best options are based on the individual’s needs. However, raw and unpasteurized fermented foods naturally contain ‘good bacteria’ / probiotics, enzymes, and vitamins that enable our body to access, transform, and use the nutrition in the food we eat. Examples include yogurt, unpasteurized kraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, kombucha, and kefir. If you’re not drawn to fermented foods, why not just take a probiotic pill? Here is a great article, by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, on the 5 benefits you get from Fermented Foods that you cannot get from a probiotic supplement.
Additionally, here are some benefits from making your own fermented products at home:
- save $$
- control the ingredients for your own tastes and body’s needs
- learn more about the transformation of simple ingredients into food that is regenerative and rebuilding for your body
- have more connection to the way in which your body responds to the foods you’re consuming and continue to refine what works best for you
After our discussion on the importance of gut health and how fermented foods can support it, I demonstrated how to make Kombucha (recipe snapshot below), Julie demonstrated how to make kraut and kimchi (Sandor Katz recipes from “The Art of Fermentation”), and then everyone got to try samples of the aforementioned. It was so fun to share this class with everyone, learn more about the health importance for our well-being and take away tips for our own fermentation experiments. The best part was getting to collaboratively-deliver this information with Dr. Ann Marty & Julie Birdwell!
If you are interested in participating in a class on this topic, let us know!
The very best to your experiments with wild fermentation and your empowered wellness, Megan
A quick snapshot Kombucha recipe:
To celebrate the many and Good Vibrations of Vega-tables: