My Obsession With Fermented Foods

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey.

I never knew what those were. Until now.

And you guys, I’m obsessed. With fermented food.

I started out drinking store bought kombucha and then began brewing my own. Then I branched out to lacto fermenting veggies and now I’m in deep. All the way down the rabbit hole with fermenting raw dairy. The picture above are some curds and whey that I just finished.

Curds and whey happens when milk is cultured and it separates into a solid (curds) and liquid (whey). The curds are sort of a cross between soft cream cheese and cottage cheese. You can dollop it on a potato, spread it on toast, sweeten it and use for desserts, or just eat it with a spoon. It’s delicious and it is SO healthful because of all the good bacteria.

And our systems are desperate for good bacteria.

Here is an excerpt from the Week One Food Spotlight in The Real Food Reset to explain why:

Our culture teaches us to fear bacteria. Because of this fear, we have declared all out war on bacteria. We “disinfect” surfaces, “sanitize” our hands, and have an almost single minded compulsion to “kill germs.”

But did you know that there are over 400 species of microbes (bacteria) living in your gut? It’s true. The number of bacteria living in your body at any given moment totals about 100 trillion. Do you have any idea how big that number is? In fact it’s about 10 times the amount of cells you have in your body.

Do the math on that for a second. You are host to 10 times the microbes than you have cells in your body. And as you probably know from high school biology, you are made up entirely of cells. So, this means that technically, you are more bacteria than you are … well … you.

It’s true that there are pathogenic species of bacteria and fungus, the effects of which can range from bothersome to deadly. But there are many, many species of bacteria that are not only not harmful, but they are downright necessary for good health. In fact, the good bacteria protect us from the bad guys.

Again, most of this symbiosis of bacteria takes place in your digestive tract. The ecological subculture in our guts is called gut flora. Many chronic problems from cancer to autism to depression and anxiety have been proven to be connected to gut dysbiosis (an unhealthy ratio of bad to good bacteria in the digestive tract). Bottom line, if we have healthy gut flora, we are healthy. If our gut flora is pathogenic, we are unhealthy.

Here is a two pronged approach to creating healthy gut flora:

1. Stop eating processed food and sugar. These toxic (non) food items both kill good bacteria and feed pathogenic (bad) organisms.

2. Introduce good bacteria into the system. The best way to do this is to introduce fermented foods.

What are fermented foods?

Fermentation is a natural process in which bacteria feed on sugar and starch in a food and the result is lactic acid. This technique has been used for ages in food preservation and the brewing of beloved beverages such as wine and beer.

Lactofermentation of food not only preserves it, but also creates beneficial enzymes, Omega 3 fatty acids, b vitamins and probiotics (good bacteria for your gut).

Back in the day, lactofermentation was a necessary practice to preserve the summer harvest. But with the advent of refrigeration and preservatives (boo!) the practice of lactofermentation of real food has all but disappeared and been replaced with processed disgustingness.

In our culture’s war on bad bacteria, we have nearly succeeded in wiping out the good bacteria as well, and the results on our health can be severe.

So how do we add fermented foods to our diets?

I’m glad you asked. (wink)

Here are a list of fermented foods you can either buy or make and start eating/drinking them today:

1. Sauerkraut: Make sure you buy it in the refrigerator section of your health food store to ensure it’s lactofermented and not just vinegar based. I like the brand “Bubbies”. Or you can make it yourself.

2. Kombucha: Make sure it’s raw and organic. Buy it in the refrigerated section of your health food store or brew it yourself.

3. Kimchi: Buy it in your health food refrigerated section or make it yourself.

4. Fermented Pickles: In your health food store’s refrigerated section, again, Bubbies is a good brand. Or buy some cukes and make it yourself.

This is enough to get you started in the wonderful world of fermented foods. Try to add some into your diet every single day and reap the incredible health benefits!

I was intimidated by this process for a long time, but I don’t know why. It’s super quick and easy. I’ll write some posts about the specifics of how to do this in your own kitchen in coming weeks, but for now, run out to the health food store and grab some kombucha and get started populating your gut with those good bugs.

And if anyone knows what a muffet is, please let me know.

The Real Food Reset is a five week online course designed to empower your mind and deliver freedom to your body. Join me as I walk you through a process of resetting your system and transitioning from the standard american diet to a real, whole, food lifestyle. Registration will be opening soon!