Living fermented foods are all the rage in health food stores. But are they just another trend soon to be cast aside?
Probably not, given that they’ve been trendy for the past several thousand years.
Fermentation (with yeast, bacteria, or a combination of both) is used by just about every culture on earth. It changes the flavor of food and preserves it. It not only can preserve nutrients in food but also break them down into more digestible forms.
It’s hard to find food that doesn’t use fermentation at some point in its processing: bread, beer, wine, chocolate, yogurt, coffee, cheese, salami, vinegar to name a few. But in most of those food and drink, the bacteria and yeast are killed off long before the product reaches market.
Living fermented foods, by contrast, arrive at the grocery store shelf with their bacteria alive. Live food is part of the culture of several local ethnic groups. Koreans eat kimchi (spicy chopped cabbage, cucumbers and other vegetables), Germans eat sauerkraut (shredded cabbage) and Russians drink kvas (a fermented drink made from bread.)
Consumption of living foods was once much more common than it is today.
“It’s a food production technique that industrialization and refrigeration stopped,” said Susan Blake, a Tacoma-based nutritional therapy practitioner. Blake counsels on nutrition and teaches courses on nutrition and food at Green River Community College and Marlene’s Natural Foods Market and Deli.
Blake is a big proponent of raw, living fermented foods. The probiotic or friendly bacteria in the food provides nutrients and vitamins. “They also produce digestive enzymes that help us get more out of our food,” she said.
Article from The Olympian, June 11, 2014, by Craig Sailor.