Monday, January 2, 2012

Wild Fermentation

Sandor Katz
About a month ago, the Beardsley farm team and I had the chance to attend a Local Food Summit in Nashville, TN. Sandor Katz was one of the invited guests, and led a brief fermentation workshop. In addition to demonstrating the process of making a radish kraut and talking about the history of fermented products, Katz explained that we are in the midst of a very misguided cultural moment that wages war on bacteria. "In fact," he exclaimed, "much of the bacteria that surrounds is is not harmful!" And by creating bacteria-killing agents, we are depriving ourselves of the beneficial bacteria that help us digest food more efficiently, or fight off diseases, or reduce our bodies' toxicity.  "We, more so than any of our predecessors, need to be conscious of re-populating our bodies with beneficial bacteria," Katz urged.

This is a very important perspective to foster in a time when sanitizing wipes and antibacterial soaps abound--we get so carried away with killing off microorganisms, that we forget how important they are to our well-being and survival. It was also helpful to be reminded about the plethora of different fermentation methods; as a canning enthusiast, I sometimes overlook alternative ways of food preservation. So maybe it's about time that I try making beet kvass, or something else outside of my usual repertoire...

I have had Katz's book Wild Fermentation for a year and a half--about as long as I've been seriously into the process of fermenting--and recommend it to anyone who is interested in the process of fermentation. Katz also has a forthcoming book that will be even more extensive in scope and cover fermentation practices from various cultures.

I am so very glad that I had a chance to meet Sandor Katz and hear him talk about the subject he is so passionate about. Here's to a new year full of beneficial microorganisms!

No comments: