Microbial cultures are essential to life's processes, such as digestion and immunity. We humans are in a symbiotic relationship with these single-cell life-forms. Microflora, as they are often called, digest food into nutrients our bodies can absorb, protect us from potentially dangerous organisms, and teach our immune system how to function. Not only are we dependent upon microorganisms, we are their descendents. According to fossil record, all forms of life on Earth spring from bacterial origins. Microorganisms are our ancestors and our allies. (bolding mine) They keep the soil fertile and comprise an indispensable part of the cycle of life. Without them, there could be no other life.
Sandor Ellix Katz
Wild Fermentation, The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-culture Foods
If the above is true, and most of the sources I've read seem to confirm that it is, then we are consistently waging war on our inner environment. How? The weapons of our inner mass destruction are anti-bacterial cleansing products, anti-bacterial sprays that are used on most containers of foods that are commercially produced, flagrant use of anti-biotics and genetically modified/engineered foods in whatever form they are consumed. When we hear about genocide in our outer world, most of us are horrified or outraged. What about the daily genocidal war we are waging within when we consume gmo soy or corn? What about the yogurt that is only cultured for about an hour or all the products that used to be live and are now pasturized. To much of the general public live foods are now considered dangerous. As a nation, we are sicker than we have ever been. Is it possible there's a connection?
If you've read this far, you might be asking, "What can I do?" On the right side of this blog is a way to sign up for my mailing list and receive the "12 Easy Steps that Will Bring You Closer to a Real Food Lifestyle."
One of these steps is to eat lacto-fermented condiments (live fermented food, live cultured food) with every meal.
What are fermented foods?
What are cultured foods?
There are a variety of fermentations including dairy ferments, tea ferments, wine and beer, and fish and meat. In this post I'm only talking about vegetables. Most vegetables are covered in healthy bacteria. When we cook them, we kill the bacteria. When we preserve them in the raw with salt, we encourage the growth of these bacteria. Our ancestors understood this. Lacto-fermentation was used to preserve the summer's fresh harvest and stay healthy in cold winter months. Historically in every culture around there world there was some form of fermented food. Sauerkraut was an essential that was written about by Pliny (about 50 b.c.) and accompanied Captain Cook around the world in his second trip. Long before either of those events, though, China was fermenting kraut over 6,000 years ago. It's only in the last 100 years that we have decided to boil our cabbage and vinegar (still calling it kraut). The pasturized version would be better named deadkraut rather than Sauerkraut.
Fermented foods are making a comeback. You can now order on-line raw fermented veggies from places like Cultures for Health. You can also buy Caldwell's Cultures from Cultures for Health which allows you to make sauerkraut in 7 to 10 days rather than 3 weeks with just salt. Bubbies also makes live kraut and you can find that at your local Whole Foods or Health Food Store.
Soon I'll be posting my own recipe for making kraut, which is much like everyone else's but will be in the clearest step by step format I can master so that it's easy.
In the meantime, remember
A little kraut at every meal,
Helps your body stay healthy and heal.