Fermentation has been a concept that’s been floating around a decent amount. From kimchi to kombucha, it’s all been in the limelight lately. But what exactly is it and what are the benefits?
What is fermentation?
Fermentation is the process of using microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, to convert carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids under anaerobic conditions. When vegetables like cabbage and cucumbers are left to steep and sit until the sugars are broken down to promote the growth of bacteria, this is what we call fermentation.
Why should we incorporate fermented food into our diets?
There are so many benefits to consuming fermented foods! Fermented foods are filled with beneficial bacteria that assist the good bacteria in the digestive system. Not only is this great for helping us with properly digesting our food, but it also helps us balance our gut flora, assisting our immune system which lies in the gut. These beneficial microflora are known as “probiotics.”
Consuming fermented foods is also great for enhancing the bioavailability of nutrients, improving arthritis symptoms, treating inflammatory bowel diseases, and assist in treating cancer. We all should definitely be implementing these foods into our diets!
Permaculture principle #2 – Storing and catching energy
Fermenting food also allows us to implement the second permaculture principal of storing and catching energy. At Kashi, we happened to have an abundance of cabbage and beets that we wanted to ensure didn’t go to waste. We harvested that energy of the food and stored it into sauerkraut, which can be stored for a longer period of time. This way we could ensure that the energy that went into producing the cabbage and beets didn’t go to waste and we are able to implement healthy fermented food into our diets.
How to do it?
Lastly, making fermented foods is so much fun. Not only are we creating a food that is increasing our health, but if done in a group it provides us time to connect over an awesome project and cultivate community. From our fermentation day at Kashi, we quickly learned that children love being involved in the process.
Fermenting foods can be really simple. We made a simple sauerkraut that consisted of cabbage, beets, salt, and a whole lot of mashing! Ferments can also involve making your own kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, kefir… and the list continues!
-Mandalynn Freeman - Eco-Volunteer 2019