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Trust Your Gut - With Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have become all the rage as of late, due in large part to a lot of research that has come out recently, highlighting the many health benefits of fermented foods. According to newhope.com, there are over 2,000 nutritional and recipe books about fermented foods listed on Amazon. Fermented foods are not a new thing, however; they have deep roots in cultures all over the world that date back centuries.

Fermentation originated in the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East, and can be traced back to about 6,000 BC. Nearly every culture since then has included at least one fermented food in its culinary heritage including beer, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, and even meats. For our ancestors, fermented food was a necessity. It was a method of preserving food since they didn't have refrigeration. It is also important to remember that our ancestors did not know as much about fermented foods as we do today. However, they did know that fermented foods lasted longer, tasted better and made them feel better.

Here are just a few examples of fermented foods based on continent or geographic area of origin.

Asia

Kimchi (fermented cabbage and spices), amazake (fermented rice beverage), soy sauce (fermented soybeans), kefir (fermented milk beverage), kaanji (fermented carrot and mustard beverage) and dosa (fermented black lentil crepe).

Africa

Fermented millet (small seeded grass) porridge, garri (cassava tubers), injera (sourdough flatbread) and lamoun makbouss (pickled lemons).

Americas

Sourdough bread, cultured milk, chicha (fermented maize beverage), kombucha (fermented tea) and Tabasco.

Middle East

Pickles, yogurts, lamoun makbouss and torshi (fermented mixed vegetables).

Europe

Rakfisk (salted, fermented trout), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), mead and crème fraiche.

Oceania

Poi (taro plant), sago (starch from tropical palm stems), kaanga pirau (fermented corn) and bagoong (fermented krill).

Why Eat Fermented Foods

There are lots of benefits your body gains from eating and drinking fermented or cultured foods (fermented and cultured foods offer different benefits to your body, but that is a whole other post!). In general, fermented foods can help promote digestive health and systematic wellness, proper functioning of the immune system and help restore the proper balance of bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, and in our antiseptic world, we could all use some beneficial bacteria in our body. Think of fermented foods as partially digested foods. An example is that many people have problems digesting the lactose in milk. When milk is fermented and becomes kefir or yogurt, the lactose becomes partially broken down and is easier to digest. Lactic-acid fermented foods, such as dill pickles and sauerkraut, are rich in enzymes that help breakdown the food we eat and help our body absorb the nutrients we rely on to stay healthy. So, needless to say, when our digestion is functioning properly and absorbing the nutrients we need, our immune system is happy and ready to wage war against illness and disease.

With a wide variety of options, you're sure to find a fermented food or beverage that satisfies your taste buds. It's time to see just how tasty fermented foods are, and how good they make your body feel!   

 

About the Author: Matt Rice

Matt Rice

Matt Rice is Oliver's intrepid blogger on all topics related to wine, beer, cider, spirits, and other gourmet products.

 


Where "Local" Means Sonoma County

To us Local means Sonoma County -- period. Not Marin, not Napa, and definitely not the state of California, as some of our competitors define it.

From the day we opened our doors in 1988, we’ve built our business on the simple premise that the best food and wine in the world are produced here, in Sonoma County. We didn’t feel like we were pioneers at the time, but as people have come to understand and embrace the value of locally grown and made food and the value of shopping locally, we realize we were part of the early days of the movement.

As a Sonoma County business, we’ve built enduring relationships with local growers, makers, and manufacturers, because they make the foods and wines we love. Many of them were getting started when we were. Now they are nationally known, but for us, they are still old friends who often delivered products to our Cotati store in their cars back in the late 1980s.

Along with local products being excellent choices for taste and quality reasons, buying locally also improves our local economy. The dollars you spend at local retailers buying local products support other local businesses and our tax base, too!

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