As the modern American food system has grown over the past hundred years, the making of fermented foods has radically dwindled.
That’s in part due to the increasing availability of vinegar during the middle of the last century as an efficient preservative for both home and commercially pickled foods.
But from a wellness standpoint, the bacteria in fermented foods can provide a missing nutritional ingredient that was much more prevalent in the American diet during generations past.
Fermented foods can help balance stomach acids and provide a probiotic infusion to help keep digestion and associated plumbing functioning regular and without hiccups, so to speak. Some fermented vegetables are even promoted as a way to increase pancreatic function for people with diabetes.
A world-renowned fermented-food expert, Sandor Katz lives in Cannon County. Sometimes dubbed “Sandorkraut” by his fans, Katz describes himself as a “fermentation revivalist.”
“Wild Fermentation,” first published in 2003, is considered an essential masterwork of the 21st century healthy-foods movement.
“Fermented foods and drinks are quite alive with flavor and nutrition,” Katz wrote in the book’s introduction. “Their flavors tend to be strong and pronounced. Think of stinky aged cheeses, tangy sauerkraut, rich earthy miso, smooth sublime wines. Though not everyone loves every flavor of fermentation, humans have always appreciated the unique compelling flavors resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi.”
Hannah Tidman and John Parker own a small company in Cannon County called Short Mountain Cultures that makes fermented products made with locally-sourced, organic produce. They specialize in producing tempeh, a fermented bean and grain product, and they also offer komboucha, kvass, kimchi, sauerkraut and fermented hot sauce.