Fermentation intersects several major food movements – it’s natural, artisanal, sustainable, innovative, functional, global, flavorful and healthy. Now is an ideal time in the food market for fermentation producers.
“Fermentation is not a trend. It’s experiencing a resurgence, a renaissance,” says Amelia Nielson-Stowell, editor for The Fermentation Association. “Fermentation never went away. It just became less of a common type of food craft, especially in the U.S. where Americans became accustomed to other types of food processing.”
Nielson-Stowell was a speaker at the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show in Las Vegas. Her remarks touched on growth opportunities and challenges for the fermentation industry. It was well-received by the audience. Two food business news magazines wrote articles about it. The show’s keynote speaker, author Paco Underhill, was also in attendance and brought up Nielson-Stowell’s presentation during his keynote.
Fermentation is a growing industry, slated to reach $846 billion in global sales by 2027. Kvass, pickles, kimchi and hard cider are the products experiencing the largest growth.
There’s no denying fermentation’s popularity – “there’s widespread scientific agreement that eating fermented foods will help the microorganisms in your gut.” But reputable clinical trials proving the health benefits of fermented foods are few and far between because they’re incredibly expensive. There are plenty of studies on the health benefits of yogurt because there’s a lot of money in the dairy industry. Other ferments don’t have the monetary backing.
Nielson-Stowell points to the 2021 Stanford study as a “watershed moment” in fermentation. It’s one of the first clinical trials proving diet remodels the gut microbiota. The research, published in the journal Cell, found a diet high in fermented food like yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, kimchi, kombucha, fermented veggies and fermented veggie broth led to an increase in overall microbial diversity.
“This microbiome world we are in right now is a real opportune time to talk to consumers about fermented foods and health,” Nielson-Stowell said. “Humans have long consumed fermented foods for thousands and thousands of years, but now we have the scientific techniques to dive into fermented foods and analyze their nutritional properties, their microbial composition and better understand how they may improve a person’s health.”
Educating consumers is another major challenge. Nielsen-Stowell encourages brands to focus on simple messaging, then delve deeper into the science on their webpage for consumer’s that want to know more about the intricacies of their food.
“Many consumers are confused about fermentation. They know it’s good for them, but they don’t understand why or what products are fermented,” she said.
Tradition, too, should be shared.
“Fermented foods have a unique story to them compared to other foods,” she adds. “Every culture in the world has a traditional ferment. We are here today because, thousands of years ago, our ancestors fermented.”
Evident of the desire to help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic, the remainder of food legislation passed in 2022 was aimed at helping businesses — especially brewers. Outdated alcohol beverage laws revamped in many states and many cottage food producers can sell homemade food with less restrictions.
In our last newsletter, we shared the food and beverage laws passed in the first half of the United States in 2022. The list below completes the balance of the country — Massachusetts to Wyoming.
HB4232 — Aids small businesses in filling labor shortages in restaurants by expanding eligible workforce to allow 17-year-olds to waitstaff to sell and serve alcohol.
HB5695 — Amends Michigan Liquor Control Code to allow a minor employee who is at least 16 years old to build a display of certain brands of alcohol, mark the price on those brands, rotate them and place them on shelves.
HB5696 — Amends the Youth Employment Standards Act to allow a minor to be issued a work permit for employment with an establishment where alcoholic beverages are distributed.
HB5744 — Codifies the licensure and regulation of certain persons engaged in processing, manufacturing, production, packing, preparing, repacking, canning, preserving, freezing, fabricating, storing, selling, serving, or offering for sale food or drink for human consumption;
HB5747 — Allows for a certificate of free sale from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) for milk and dairy products.
HB6105 — Allows alcohol wholesalers to distribute non-alcoholic beverages to retailers and allows use of electronic coupons under certain circumstances.
HB6106 — Allows wineries and breweries to make and sell private label products.
HB5984 — Allows the consumption and service of food, beverages and alcohol in public swimming pools.
SB656 — An act to create a commission for the control of the alcoholic beverage traffic within this state.
HB918 — Creates a Food Truck Permit under the local alcoholic beverage control law, allowing food truck vendors to sell alcoholic beverages.
SB2844 — Provides funding to construct the Mississippi Alcoholic Beverage Control Warehouse.
SB3008 — Makes several changes to Minnesota’s liquor laws. Known as the “Free the Growler” bill, the new law raises the cap on growler sales. It also allows more off-sale options for smaller breweries and expands license opportunities for specific cities and events.
HB684 — The state’s Small Business and Grocer Investment Act. Develops quality retail food outlets for jobs, expands markets for Mississippi farmers, supports economic vitality in underserved communities. Increases access to retail food outlets that sell fresh and healthy food. Provides a dedicated source of financing for healthy food retailers in Mississippi.
HB1135 — Allows home delivery of alcoholic beverages from licensed retailers.
SB3015 — Earmarks funds for the State Department of Agriculture and Commerce, including costs of the Farmers Central Market.
HB1697 — Allows cottage food producers to sell food over the internet. Removes the $50,000 annual sales limit for cottage food producers.
HB314 — Raises the maximum annual gross sales of food by a homestead or cottage food operation from $20,000 to $35,000.
HB1039 — Amends alcohol law, allowing beverage manufacturers to sell beers made on-site to state-based wholesalers.
HB1584 — Establishes a capital improvement grant program for the benefit of state fairs and agricultural fairs.
SB17 — Allows dogs in outdoor dining areas.
SB212 — Lowers liquor license fee to $300 (from $1,692) for brewers selling less than 1,000 cases of liquor per year.
AB462 — Permits pedicabs to operate while passengers are consuming alcoholic beverages.
AB3991 — Exempts raw, unprocessed honey from the health department’s cottage food regulations.
AB2344 — Requires food service establishments to post food allergens at restaurants and in food ordering services.
AB3954 — Establishes New York State Council on Food Policy. Establishes policies to help New Yorkers avoid food insecurity and eat as much New York-grown and produced food as possible. Supports growth of a New York-based local farm and food product economy to revitalize rural, suburban and urban farms.
AB8620 — Authorizes a licensee to sell wine for consumption on the premises to also include the sale and consumption of shochu (Japanese alcoholic beverage).
AB10176 — Allows alcohol license holders to sell liquor at off-premise catering establishments.
SB771 — Amends the Nourish New York program to define products as those grown, produced, harvested, butchered, canned or freezed in New York.
SB5438 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to authorize tastings at licensed premises by distillers.
SB7655 — Amends the definition of New York State-labeled beer to require that at least 60%, by weight, of its hops and at least 60% of any other ingredients are grown in New York.
SB7823 — Creates an advisory group which will produce a report on improving urban and rural consumer access to locally produced, healthy foods.
SB8989 — Authorizes the manufacture of beer, spirits, cider, wine and mead at the Culinary Institute of America.
SB9093 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to allow parcels of land to the list of premises which are exempt from the law’s provisions. Restricts manufacturers/wholesalers and retailers from sharing an interest in a liquor license.
SB9385 — Amends alcohol beverage control law to allow a restaurant located within 200 feet of a school to serve alcohol.
HB768 — The 2022 ABC Omnibus, decreases regulations on bar owners and expands the freedom of alcohol sales and transportations. Eliminates the $1 membership requirement for people at visiting private bars.
SB762 — North Carolina Farm Act of 2022.
HB629 — Increases microdistillery production limits and allows spirituous liquor tasting samples at agency stores free of charge.
SB102 — Modifies Ohio’s liquor laws. Eases restrictions on local homebrewers and fermenters, exempting them from certain liquor law permits. Allows homebrewers to make beer or wine without a liquor permit, serving it on private property for personal consumption. Homebrewers cannot sell homemade beer or wine. Permits a person under the age of 18 to handle beer and liquor at a hotel, bar or restaurant. Eliminates provision that more than 30% of a restaurant gift card could not be used to purchase alcohol. Authorizes a retail liquor permit holder to sell beer or liquor on Sunday. Allows charitable or political organizations to give away beer or liquor as a prize at a raffle or auction.
SB269 — Allows a mixed-beverage licensee selling wine, beer or cocktails to-go to provide a different price than they do for drinks that are served on premises.
SB757 — Allows for small brewer and small farm wineries to deliver alcohol.
HB1615 — Allows breweries to sell malt or brewers beverages to non-licensees and licensees that also sell malt or brewers beverages. Allows all liquor license holders to offer amplified sound in their establishment (previously only allowed for wineries).
HB7095 — Part of the “Take It Outside” campaign, allows restaurants to continue approved outdoor dining, which was originally approved only for the pandemic. Extends moratorium on municipal enforcement of outdoor dining requirements.
HB7209 — Eliminates sunset date on the law that allowed takeout drinks. The new law now permanently allows Class B liquor license holders and brewpubs to sell distilled spirits with takeout orders.
HB7438 — The Toxic Packaging Reduction Act, prohibits food packaging with PFAS intentionally added in any amount from being manufactured, knowingly sold or distributed in Rhode Island, as of Jan. 1, 2024.
HB1322 — Expands definition of cottage food to include all shelf-stable foods, and even some foods requiring refrigeration, provided the seller completes regular food-safety training. Cottage food producers will still be required to label items with a product name, the name of the producer and a disclaimer that it wasn’t produced in a commercial kitchen.
SB101 — Allows any person 19 years or older, who is certified by a nationally recognized alcohol management program, to draw, pour, mix, serve and sell alcoholic beverages if the licensee is at least 21 years of age and on the premise when the alcohol is being served.
SB188 — Allows for unlicensed businesses to store alcoholic beverages.
HB1688 — Creates a common carrier license to be issued by the alcoholic beverage commission to a person or corporation that transports alcoholic beverages for a fee.
SB693 — Enacts the Tennessee Food Freedom Act, specifying circumstances when persons may sell certain homemade food products. Allows people to sell shelf-stable food products without a license, as long as they don’t require temperature control.
SB2270 — Authorizes a special occasion license to designate an area in which liquor-by-the-drink licensees may sell alcoholic beverages and beer to patrons who may consume the alcoholic beverages and beer anywhere in the designated area. Authorizes a festival operator licensee to provide a list of the liquor-by-the-drink licensees that will sell alcoholic beverages and beer to patrons in the designated area of the festival.
HB142 — Allows wild game to be donated to food banks and charitable organizations.
HB426 — Creates a third-party delivery license that authorizes the licensee to deliver alcoholic beverages purchased by consumers from other retail licensees.
HB837 — Requires any food manufacturer, food storage warehouse, and retail food establishment to obtain a permit from the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services prior to operating.
HB1336 — Convenes a working group from representatives of the state’s alcoholic beverage control authority, Virginia Wineries Association, the Virginia Wine Wholesalers Association, the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association, and the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild and other relevant stakeholders to address various needs, including evaluating the number of barrels of beer allowed under a license and reviewing distributing through the Virginia Winery Distribution Company.
SB146 — Guarantees that State Board of Health regulations should not require an establishment that only sells prepared foods to have a certified food protection manager on site during all hours of operation.
SB315 — Increases the amount of alcoholic beverages that can be transported through the state from one gallon to three gallons.
SB519 — Authorizes sale and service of alcoholic beverages for casinos.
HB1145 — Allows non-wood, renewable fiber in 2 recycled content paper carryout bags.
HB1359 — In light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, reduces liquor licensing fees temporarily.
SB5619 — Conserves and restores kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington State.
“The American Wine Industry Has an Old People Problem,” reads the headline from the New York Times. The article dives into the challenge highlighted by a new report: winemakers are missing younger consumers. The biggest growth area is among 70- to 80-year-olds.
“It’s worse than I thought,” Mr. McMillan said in a phone interview. “I thought we would have made some progress with under-60s. I’ve been talking about this problem for seven years and we still haven’t reacted.”
Younger consumers have a plethora of trending alcoholic drinks to choose from, much more than baby boomers. Craft beers, hard kombucha, hard seltzers and canabis-infused cocktails all compete with wine.
Rob McMillan, executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank and author of the State of the U.S. Wine Industry 2023 report, says he believes wine’s downfall is a marketing problem. His tips:
- Emphasize social responsibility with the environmental sustainability of wine
- Embrace health awareness with ingredient labeling and transparent nutrition
- More introductory wines, like wine coolers, wines mixed with carbonated water and sold in cans, wines sold in smaller bottles
- More advertising and promotion targeted to a younger audience
Read more (New York Times)
Two-and-a-half years into the Covid-19 pandemic, state legislators continue to pass laws aiming to aid food businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Bills passed in the 2022 legislative session further loosen the reins on the archaic alcohol laws that dominate state alcohol departments, permanently adopt formerly temporary laws aimed to help restaurants survive the pandemic, expand cottage food laws for the growing amount of home-based producers and help farmers by setting standards on the amount of local, farm-grown produce public institutions need to be purchasing.
More states are also aiming to become more green, banning PFAS food packaging, limiting single-serving utensils and requiring produce checkout bags to be compostable.
Below are the key food, beverage and food service laws passed in 2022. They are listed alphabetically in this article, Alabama through Maryland. We’ll feature the balance of the states — Massachusetts to Wyoming — in TFA’s next newsletter (January 25, 2023).
SB22 — Allows retail establishments to serve wine for off-premise consumption, redacting the former bill that only allows for wine to be consumed on-site.
SB9 — A comprehensive overhaul of the state’s 40-year-old alcohol licensing statute. Allows the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board (ABC) to issue licenses to government entities and tribal groups. The modernization eliminates bureaucratic red tape by extending tasting room operating hours, allows live concerts at taprooms and allows small communities to track mail and online alcohol sales to eliminate bootlegging.
HB298 — Establishes a task force on Alaska’s food systems and sovereignty.
SB1248 — Deems it unlawful for a supplier to coerce a wholesaler to accept a delivery of beer that was not ordered or canceled.
HB2660 — Updates liquor licensing procedures.
AB 257 — Known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, it establishes the state’s first Fast Food Council to establish minimum standards on wages, working hours and health-, safety- and welfare-related conditions.
AB778 — Requires state institutions to purchase 60% California-grown food, in season.
AB1825 — Standardizes regulations regarding shipment and transport of California fruit, nut and vegetables.
AB2971 — Allows beer manufacturers to give up to five cases of retail advertising glassware to an on-sale retail licensee.
SB490 — The Buy American Food Act. Requires all state public institutions that receive federal reimbursements for meals to only purchase food products grown, packed or processed in the United States.
SB793 — Allows the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to issue a music venue license that would allow the licensee to sell beer, wine and distilled spirits at the entertainment facility.
SB 982 — Creates a certified organic apple program for apples grown in California.
SB 972 — Modifies the California Retail Food Code, allowing sidewalk food vendors to obtain public health permits. The new Compact Mobile Food Operation (CMFO) is defined as a non-motorized push-cart, stand, rack or display, pedal-driven cart or wage that must be cleaned and stored daily.
SB1013 — Adds wine and distilled spirits to the state’s recycling container redemption program.
SB1046 — Requires pre-checkout, produce bags in grocery stores to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
SB1370 — Authorizes a theater company and a nonprofit radio broadcasting company that holds a license to sell and serve alcohol to also sell alcohol two hours before and one hour after the event.
HB1017 — Increases the amount of alcohol beverages brought into the state that would be exempt from taxes.
HB5146 — Act Concerning Food Donation, makes it easier for supermarkets to donate their edible surplus produce or other food items to food relief organizations that are in need.
HB5271 — Extends temporary provisions put in place during Covid-19 for temporary outdoor food and beverage services.
SB187 — Increases maximum gross sales for cottage food operations from $25,000 to $50,000.
HB46 — Permits brewery-pub and microbrewery license holders to brew, bottle and sell hard seltzers and other fermented beverages made from malt substitutes. Formerly, license holders could not brew hard seltzers or other non-malt based products without obtaining a Federal Brewer’s Notice.
HB81 — Allows two or more microbreweries to share brewing equipment if the microbreweries maintain separate premises to sell their product to consumers and wholesalers.
HB98 — Allows importers to take orders from retailers any day including Sundays and holidays and process them for delivery.
HB143 — Removes taprooms from the list of establishments that a commissioner can refuse to grant an alcohol license to when there is an existing licensed establishment of similar type within a specified distance.
HB226 — Extends immunity from civil or criminal liability to those who donate food to nonprofit organizations. Includes those who donate perishable food and wild game.
HB289 — Allows liquor stores, farm wineries, brewery-pubs, microbreweries, craft distilleries and wine auctions to provide curbside service. Sales are prohibited to intoxicated persons or persons under 21 years of age.
HB290 — Permanently removes the sunset provision of House Bill 1 that allowed food and drink establishments who suffered loss during the Covid-19 pandemic to continue selling alcoholic beverages in take-out, curbside or drive-through services — and to use outdoor seating for serving food and drinks.
HB427 — Allows persons 14 and 15 years old to be employed in places where alcoholic beverages are served, but not selling or serving alcohol.
HB463 — Amends current alcohol law, allowing a person 18 years or older to enter a tavern or taproom to pick up a food order for delivery through a third-party delivery service. Also allows a person 18 years or older to work in a tavern or taproom selling or serving alcohol as long as they’re not preparing alcohol.
SB46 — Amends current alcohol law, permitting wedding venues and other rental venues licensed as a bottle club to allow customers to bring alcoholic beverages
SB304 — Corrects code related to the regulation of seeds sold in the state.
SB334 — Allows restaurants that sell ice cream containing up to 10% alcohol by volume to sell such ice cream without the requirement to purchase at least $10 of food.
HB1175 — The Georgia Raw Dairy Act. Authorizes and regulates the production, handling, transporting and sale of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption. It also provides standards for safety, cleanliness and health for such products and animals producing them.
HB1443 — Allows mobile food service establishments that have active permits to operate in the state state, not just the county of origin as the bill previously allowed.
SB396 — Renames Georgia State Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to the Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank Program (F2FB). It requires food procured to be Georgia grown.
HB1568 — Requires public institutions to ensure a certain percentage of food purchased for public schools, youth campuses, public hospitals, public prisons and University of Hawaii system academic programs consists of fresh, local agricultural products. Requires an annual benchmark report from public institutions on their efforts.
SB335 — Requires the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to annually lease at least 50% of land leased or up for lease renewal to operations whose primary business is, or supports, local food production.
SB2331 — Expands the definition of “beer” under the state’s liquor tax and liquor regulatory laws to specify that the term includes an alcohol by volume of no less than 0.5% and alcohol seltzer beverages.
SB2992 — Establishes the Hawaii agricultural investment program to support local agricultural producers.
SB2960 — Requires the Department of Agriculture to partner with Hawaii’s agricultural community to establish and implement a food safety certification training program to help small- to medium-sized farms comply with federal food safety certification mandates.
SB3197 — Establishes a farmer apprentice mentorship program, encouraging young farmers in the state.
SB 2664 — Protects agricultural lands that grow taro, a native crop to Hawaii. Fermented taro is used to make poi, a popular Polynesian dish.
HB646 — Expands definition of alcoholic beverages to include mead, cider and other fermented fruit juice beverages for personal use and to provide for the use and storage of homemade beer, wine and other fermented beverages at licensed premises.
HB744 — Allows distillers to donate their own liquor to charity, previously an illegal act.
HB209 — Creates the Latex Glove Ban Act, banning use of latex gloves for use in commercial food prep.
HB2382 — Creates the Healthy Food Program Development Act, expanding access to healthy foods in eligible areas in the State by providing assistance to grocery stores, corner stores, farmers’ markets and other small food retailers.
SB3838 — Amends the Food Handling Regulation Enforcement Act. Provides that a farmer who sells meat, poultry, eggs or dairy products from the premises of the farmer’s farm is exempt from licensing by the farmer’s local health department under specified conditions. Provides that local health departments may issue Farmers’ Market Retail Permits for the sale of products at farmers’ markets and at semi-permanent events.
HB1149 — Expands the cottage food law by allowing all direct sales of almost all nonperishable foods made by home-based vendors (except acidified canned goods), including online sales and in-state shipping. Requires an individual who sells poultry, rabbits, and eggs at a farmers’ market or roadside stand to comply with certain requirements.
HB1298 — Provides the alcohol and tobacco commission may not require physical separation between a bar area and a dining area in a food hall. Creates a temporary craft manufacturer hospitality permit that allows a craft manufacturer to participate in a convention, trade show, exposition or similar event on the licensed premises of a particular host permittee.
HF2431 — Updates Iowa’s cottage food laws from “home bakeries” to “home food processing establishments.” Allows cottage food producers to sell most types of homemade food, including acidified canned goods, meat and poultry. Also allows cottage food businesses to sell online and ship products. Increases the sale limit for home food processors from $35,000 to $50,000.
SF2290 — Creates the Dairy Processing and Milk Production Innovation and Revitalization program, to aid the dairy industry in recovering from the pandemic and expand career opportunities and industry development in rural Iowa. Creates an artisanal dairy study to explore establishing an artisanal dairy processing program at a community college or university.
SF2374 — Overhaul of Iowa’s liquor licensing classifications. Allows Class C liquor licenses to purchase up to five cases of beer, high alcohol content beer or canned cocktails at any retailer, every 24 hours. It also includes Sunday Sales privileges on all Class C licenses. Includes fines for third-party food delivery services that use a restaurant’s logo or menu without permission. Also changes how Iowans can redeem beer and soda cans and bottles to collect nickel deposits.
SB2 — Allows consumption of beer, wine or other alcoholic liquor on the Kansas state fairgrounds. Increases the number of temporary permits an applicant may receive from four to 12 permits per year.
SB346 — Allows on-farm sales of raw milk, with a label identifying the product as unpasteurized.
HB252 — Amends alcohol law to lower the minimum server age of employees to 18 and to exclude persons under the age of 20 from bartending.
HB500 — Modernizes Kentucky alcohol laws to aid the state’s thriving bourbon industry. Legalizes sales of barrel-aged and batched cocktails, a practice formerly not authorized in Kentucky since the alcohol was not poured from its original container. Authorizes private barrel selection events, allows distillers to sell exclusive bottles on-site at distillery gift shops, authorizes distilleries to open a satellite tasting room and allows distillers to offer complimentary samples and sell bottles at fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets.
HR15 — A resolution recognizing March 22, 2022, as National Agriculture Day.
HR21 — A resolution recognizing October 12, 2022, as National Farmers Day.
HR31 — A resolution recognizing May 2022 as National Beef Month in Kentucky.
HR35 — A resolution recognizing June 2022 as National Dairy Month.
HB370 — Allows for self-distribution of beer or other malt beverages by in-state brewers.
HB523 — Allows licensed manufacturers or brewers of alcoholic beverages to host contracted private events at brewing facilities.
HB828 — Updates the state’s cottage food law, increasing the gross annual sales threshold under which a home-based preparer of low-risk foods may qualify for the protections of the statute known commonly as the cottage food law.
HB829 — Updates third-party alcoholic beverage delivery laws to clarify the delivery distance radius, necessary permits and penalties.
HR 78 — A resolution asking Congress to require the Food and Drug Administration to fulfill its duties related to the inspection and testing of imported seafood and to support the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act. Collaboratively, these efforts would help restore economic opportunities for Louisiana’s fishing industries, protect the health of consumers, and make the international seafood trade safer for workers
SB450 — Allows a licensed wholesaler to transfer beverages between microbreweries.
LD1503 — Prohibits the use of toxic “forever chemicals” called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various products, including food packaging and cookware.
HB 178 — Alters the definition of cottage food business to increase the cap on the annual revenues from the sale of cottage food products from $25,000 to $50,000.
HB275 — Prohibits a person from manufacturing, selling or distributing products with PFAS chemicals in the state of Maryland, including in food packaging.
SB569 — Extends the application dates of certain provisions related to certain holders of Class 4 limited winery licenses.
Wild food expert Pascal Baudar says the fact that we can buy tomatoes in the store year round “is freaky.” We should be eating food in season, and we’re ignoring the plethora of sustainable cuisine available in nature, edible food hikers overlook and cities destroy.
“One of the things I started realizing doing foraging is it’s really about food preservation techniques,” says Baudar, author of four books on traditional food preservation. “As a forager, plants go through different phases, but I have to find a way to preserve it so I can still eat my plants in the winter.”
Baudar and Sandor Katz, author of multiple books on fermentation, shared an intimate stage at cookbook store Now Serving LA in Los Angeles to promote Baudar’s latest book, Wildcrafted Vinegars. The two rockstars of fermentation encouraged the crowd to connect with the resources around them.
The Foraging Craft
Baudar learned foraging as a child from his grandmother. He grew up in Belgium, France in a rural town of just 1,000 people. “I really enjoyed this connection with the environment and the forest,” he says. He wanted to study it more – but, at the time, the only books on the subject of foraging wild plants and living with the environment were about witchcraft. He studied fine art instead, eventually becoming a graphic designer.
Nervous about the much hyped Y2K scare, he began foraging again in 1999. But this time he decided he wanted to really live it. In just a few years, he took hundreds of classes from native people, botanists and survivalists, learning about native plants and how to find and eat them.
Today, Baudar lives in the Angeles National Forest in San Bernardino County. He teaches classes on subjects like eco-friendly foraging and plant identification. He admits he had no desire to get into fermentation when he began foraging. But eating wild plants meant he had to master food preservation techniques to eat the food year round, which he covers in his books (like Wildcrafted Fermentation). He learned there are three bacteria types that can be foraged locally – lactic acid, acetic acid and yeasts – their transformative microbial power harnessed through fermentation.
“My main job is to rediscover what people did in the old days,” Baudar says. “I’m not a crusader, I’m a teacher more than anything else.”
Biodiversity of Fermenting
Katz, meanwhile, was drawn to fermentation from gardening. Raised in New York’s Upper West Side, Katz eventually moved to a rural, off-the-grid community in Tennessee as a young adult. He planted a garden and learned to live a slower lifestyle.
“I was such a naïve city kid, I didn’t realize all the cabbage would be ready at the same time,” Katz says of his first garden. He learned to ferment sauerkraut first – garnering the nickname “Sandor Kraut” – and become a self-described “fermentation fetishist” from there.
“My interest in fermentation stems from my desire to get closer to where my food comes from. A lot of people have a craving to be more connected to their food,” says Katz. “Learning about common, wild plants and accessing them is a great way to do that. You get to know your environment better.”
Katz is known worldwide as a fermentation revivalist, bringing a renewed interest in the ancient food craft, especially in the U.S. He always preaches on fermentation’s safety.
“Fermentation is above all else a strategy for safety,” he says. “In the realm of raw fruits or vegetables, there are no cases of food poisoning from fermentation.”
Immersing vegetables into salt and water allows the lactic acid bacteria on the vegetables to thrive. If there were salmonella on a vegetable, for example, fermenting it creates an acidic environment where salmonella can’t survive.
“Acidification and alcohol are really strategies for safety because they make it impossible for the pathogens to grow,” he adds. “Everything we eat raw has incredible biodiversity on it that we don’t even recognize. The question of which of those organisms are going to become dominant for the fermentation, that’s what it’s all about, really. Manipulating the environmental conditions to encourage the ones we want and discourage the ones we don’t want.”
Hunting for Wild Plants
There’s an element to safety in foraging, too, “you really have to know what you’re doing,” Baudar cautions. “There are some plants that will definitely kill you. You have to go with certainty.”
Baudar will not forage in the city, though, especially along major roadways. The pollution in major metropolitan areas gets in the plants – he hunts in more pristine environments.
“You have to know where to forage,” he says. Still, people have healthy urban gardens. “Modern agriculture in my opinion is way worse than whatever you can forwage, with the amount of chemicals they put on there”
Baudar currently lives in an RV on property over 130 miles away from the city of Los Angeles. He moved from the city during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“One of the things I learned doing this is Los Angeles is really the capital of wild food,” he says. “Los Angeles is incredible in terms of wild, edible plants. What is fascinating is 90% of the wild, edible plants around Los Angeles are actually native and invasive.”
He points to the foothills and mountainsides surrounding Los Angeles and Southern California. In the spring, they’re a bright yellow color, covered with roughly 12 different types of wild mustard. Mustard could easily be preserved and put in the food stream – Baudar says other countries do this with wild mustard – but in California, the mustard is sprayed with Round Up and ripped out.
“The biggest food waste in Los Angeles is wild plants,” he adds. “But no one ever looks at wild food as food waste.”
Noma restaurant in Denmark is an excellent example of foraging. There was no Nordic cuisine based in native native plants until Noma revived it. “They practically rediscovered cuisine from scratch in the early 2000s,” he says.
Think of California cuisine and a modge podge of food from other cultures comes to mind – Mexican or Vietnamese food. California doesn’t have an identity with their native food. Baudar says every state could have their own sustainable cuisine based on edible, wild food.
“If you cook California cuisine in 2023, cuisine that is actually good for the environment by cooking those non-native and native plants, cuisine that’s sustainable because you’re replanting the plants, that’s native cuisine. And you do it without cultural appropriation because it’s native plants,” he says. “And it tastes really, really good. But foraging is not part of the big picture (for governments).”
Water kefir or tibicos is making a splash. Food trend analysts are highlighting tibicos as the “it” drink of the new year.
Tibicos is ripe for popularity in 2023. More consumers are shunning soda in favor of functional drinks. Tibicos is not sugar-filled like soda, not as tart at kombucha and more flavor-filled than seltzer water.
An article on Yahoo notes that water kefir has a unique taste compared to other fermented drinks like kombucha or kvass. “Tibicos is knows as a ‘softer’ fermented beverage because of its lactic acid,” the article reads.
The growing trend is worth highlighting, but TFA notes the Yahoo article got a few facts wrong — like the spelled of kvass and chicha (a fermented soda). Also, though the article states the microbiota of tibicos contains different acids, yeast is not one of them. Yeast will never produce acid.
Read more (Yahoo)
Korean ferments are gaining popularity amongst U.S. consumers, and Korean agriculture leaders are trying to increase exports of Korean-made fermented foods to the U.S. At the first Korean Fermented Food Forum this month in Washington D.C., industry leaders shared their expertise on the future of Korean ferments in the American market.
“If you’re going to look at and work with fermented foods, you really have to look at Korea because that’s where all the action is, that’s where all the good food is,” says Fred Breidt, PhD, microbiologist with the USDA (and a TFA Science Advisor). Breidt was the keynote speaker at the event. “It’s becoming more and more popular to use these kinds of foods for their tremendous flavors that they can impart to food products and their health benefits as well.”
The forum was sponsored by Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation (aT Corporation). It coincided with celebrations earlier that week for November 11 being designated as Kimchi Day being in Washington D.C. and Virginia. They join New York and California, which ratified Kimchi Day in the respective states in 2021. The aT Corporation is actively leading efforts for all U.S. states to designate a Kimchi Day.
“With the growing global popularity of Korean food, I am delighted and eager to promote awareness and educate consumers on the health benefits of kimchi and Korean fermented food products, such as kimchi, fermented soybeans, salted seafood and vinegar,” says Choon Jin Kim, president of the aT Corporation. He called kimchi “Korea’s staple fermented soul food. I believe the reason that Americans enjoy kimchi so much is that the many qualities of Korean fermented foods, such as its excellent nutritional value, health benefits and taste, are beginning to shine.”
Sales of Korean fermented foods are growing exponentially in the U.S. According to U.S. retail sales figures tracked by The Fermentation Association and SPINS data, kimchi increased in sales by 22% in 2022, totaling $37.56 million in sales. Sales of gochujang grew 8% in 2022, totaling $6.57 million in sales.
“It’s a wave that’s been coming for a long time,” said Rob Rubba, executive chef and partner at Oyster Oyster restaurant in D.C. “Where someone who was previously omnivore like myself, who is seeking depth of flavor in something you might not associate with a vegetable, you can achieve that through fermented foods.”
When asked why fermentation grew so much during the Covid-19 pandemic, Amelia Nielson-Stowell, TFA’s editor, says fermentation touches multiple global food movements. Fermented foods are healthy, natural, green, innovative, artisanal, flavorful and functional.
“Fermentation is not a trend, it’s the oldest food craft, it’s a traditional food art with history in every culture around the world and it’s absolutely having a resurgence here in the U.S.,” Nielsen-Stowell says.
She points out that, while kimchi grew 22% in sales this year, it’s increased market size to 16% of the fermented vegetables category. In 2021, kimchi sales grew 90%, but were only 7% of the fermented vegetables category.
“More brands tuned into kimchi’s popularity, so we’re seeing more market saturation,” Nielsen-Stowell says. “There’s huge opportunities for more Korean fermented foods here in the U.S.”
Kheedim Oh attribute’s part of kimchi’s success to Korean agricultural leaders. Oh, the chief minister of New York-based brand Mama O’s Premium Kimchi, says “We have to give credit to the Korean government and groups like the aT because the Korean government recognizes the soft power of promoting.”
When he began Mama O’s 20 years ago, there were few American-made kimchi companies. Now, “there’s like a new kimchi company everyday. I don’t think it’s going to stop because kimchi is the best food ever, it goes with everything.”
Julie Sproesser agrees. Sproesser, the Interim Executive Director of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, says she’s seen Korean ingredients and Korean hybrid restaurants across the D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas increase in the last seven years.
“It seems like it’s not an accident and not going anywhere,” she adds.
During his presentation, Breidt shared an overview on Korean fermented foods, including kimchi, gochujang, ssamjang and doenjang.
Kimchi’s origin begins 11,000 years ago to the start of one of the world’s “first technologies invented” – pottery. Koreans discovered adding veggies with salt and water could preserve food during a time there was no refrigeration.
Scientists are continuing to learn about the significant health benefits of the probiotic-rich, lactic acid bacteria in fermented foods. Breidt says kimchi is especially beneficial because it has 10 million to 1 billion live lactic acid bacteria per gram. Through emerging genomic tools, science is now linking specific lactic acid bacteria strains in fermented foods to health benefits.
There are challenges to selling in the U.S. market, though. Briedt says many Americans like a lightly-fermented kimchi (with a pH in the high 3’s or low 4’s), but once fermentation has begun, it’s hard to stop unless it is refrigerated.
“It’s difficult to get lightly-fermented kimchi that’s imported from somewhere else. You pretty much have to get it locally or near the source of where it’s being produced,” he says, noting because kimchi is a live, fermented product, it doesn’t travel well. “The flavors will change over time, and the evolution of these microbial communities is going to proceed unless you somehow sterilize the product, which is really counter to the whole idea of what excites people about kimchi.”
The environmental factors around fermented vegetables must be meticulously monitored to produce a consistent product. Like the freshness of the ingredients, the correct size of the fermentation vessel, the cut of cabbage and the proper sterilization of cutting machines.
“Having access to high-quality products here I think is really boosting this, and it’s going to keep going as long as we continue those efforts,” Breidt adds.
The 2022 Korean Fermented Food Forum was the first, though it is expected to recur annually, coinciding with Kimchi Day. Jeanie Chang was the moderator of the forum, a licensed clinician who uses Korean dramas as a way to explore mental health through her Instagram, Noona’s Noonchi.
When The Fermentation Association began tracking industry news five years ago, we put a write-up in our newsletter when fermentation made a food publication’s new year “trend” or “best of” list. Today, as we analyze the 2023 lists, we’re finding it too overwhelming to write a story for each new trend list. Fermentation is dominating 2023.
End-of-year lists often define which foods Americans will be obsessed with in the New Year. Umami-packed fermentation is also at the center of multiple larger trends. Today’s diners are looking for foods that are functional, intensely flavored, international, sustainable, aid gut health and combine sweet and savory.
Christopher Koetke, a global culinary expert and executive chef at Ajinomoto in Chicago, says he thinks there will “be even more of an explosion of fermented products,” reads an article in the Medium.
“As consumers continue to seek out new global flavor profiles, I anticipate 2023 will be the year that umami finally takes center stage,” Koetke says. “I expect to see umami not only in sauces, snack foods, and sandwiches, but branching out into more unexpected uses like desserts and cocktails.”
Interestingly, many of these food publications pointed to McCormick releasing a Miso Caramel Seasoning as evidence fermentation is propelling into the zeitgeist.
Here’s a roundup of fermentation highlights:
“Here is another trend that’s been brewing (fermenting?) for some time. While fermented foods are certainly nothing new, their trendiness has been sneaking in and taking hold of us with things like kimchi and kombucha for the past few years. In 2023, we’re anticipating a bag wave of fermented foods will hit the shelves. This trend ties in deliciously with the “sweets plus” prediction, as many traditionally sweet flavors are expected to fuse with fermented flavors. We’ve begun to see this unusually tasty combination already in products like McCormick’s miso caramel seasoning, which launched just this year.”
- The Manual, “Food Trends That Are About To Take Over 2023”
There’s no doubt that fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, and tempeh have increased in popularity and what’s not to love about these foods?
They’re a mix of umami and sour flavors that are produced from natural fermentation — this just means they’re made by microorganisms — which yields complex, full flavors.
To get ahead of the trend, McCormick Foods, arguably one of the largest spice companies, has already launched a new blend named Miso Caramel Seasoning. You can even find a recipe for Miso Caramel Oatmeal Whoopie Pies on their website.
It’s possible that Covid-19 has helped boost fermented foods to its top position since these products often contain probiotics which can aid in digestive health, immunity, and overall wellness. Topics that have been on everyone’s mind in recent years amid a global pandemic.
- The Medium, “Flavor scientists predict the biggest trends in foods for 2023”
“I’m going with fermented and the sour and umami flavors produced from it,” says Jan Matsuno, founder of Yumbini Foods and Mindful Food Consulting, when asked to peer into her crystal ball to predict a flavor trend set to make the biggest impact in the coming year. “Think kimchi, miso, beet kvass, pickles, beer, and kombucha.”
This ties in closely to the Sweet Plus trend, playing off the popularity of more complex flavors that often result from the fermentation process. In addition, as Matsuno points out, “fermented ties in squarely with Korean, the hottest ethnic cuisine around, and its use of tangy, spicy fermented vegetables.
“Natural fermentation also often uses probiotics, which are thought to increase gut biodiversity, improving digestive health and overall wellness, clearly desired by many consumers,” continues Matsuno. With COVID-19 spurring many to amp up their wellness initiatives, more consumers are looking to food and beverages to aid in their quest. According to Fuchs North America, fermented ingredients have seen rapid growth in both foodservice and retail, largely due to the perceived health benefits surrounding fermentation, along with a growing acceptance of sour flavors.
“Miso (fermented soybeans, rice, and sometimes other grains) is popping up in trendy online recipes all over,” says Matsuno. “Miso soup and salad dressing have been around for a long time. And the umami flavor of miso is a natural with vegetables, fish, and meats. But what about miso caramel, miso banana bread, or miso buttercream with spice cake?”
- Food Technology Magazine, “Outlook 2023: Flavor Trends”
Pickling and fermenting preparations are having a moment. Not only do these preparations promote ingredient preservation and health connotations but they also allow for unique culinary experimentation. Expect pickling to extend to everything from proteins and french fries to herbs and nuts, while pickled ingredients, themselves, will top unexpected dishes. At the bar, pucker up with sour cocktails containing fermented, gut-healthy ingredients, such as kombucha, miso and sake. Lastly, look to menus to cite more specific preserving processes, such as lacto-fermentation (the use of bacteria to create lactic acid), to provide consumers with a level of scientific transparency.
- Technomic, “What We Foresee for 2023”
“Getting creative and cross-utilizing foods is pertinent to mitigate food waste across the world – and it’s part of our culinary DNA. Our chefs will regularly experiment with banana peels to make plant-based bacon, convert potato peels into chips and garnishes, or even repurpose off cuts and trimmings to make mousses and rillettes, as well as using techniques like pickling, canning, and fermenting to extend product shelf life.” — Ana Esteves, vice president of hotel operations, Lindblad Expeditions
- Food & Wine, “These Will Be the Biggest Travel Trends of 2023, According to Experts”
The “new Nordic” culinary movement spearheaded by Noma in Copenhagen helped cement pickling, preserving, and brining in fine dining, bringing the fermented flavors front and center. Koji, a Japanese product traditionally made from fermenting rice, barley, or soybeans — but it can also be made from other ingredients containing both starch and protein — plays a starring role in many of these restaurants. Koji is best known as the starter for miso, but now different flavor bases, ingredients, and approaches are coming into play as more chefs as well as bartenders are taking to the process as an appreciation for the flavors that come from fermentation is spreading across cultures, cuisines, and service categories.
- Nation’s Restaurant News, “Af&co and Carbonate predict 2023 food & beverage trends”
Fermentation, in general, has soared in popularity over the past few years, and koji is the latest darling on the fermentation scene. Koji is a Japanese seasoning that is made by fermenting rice, barley, or soybeans. It is the starter base for miso, sake, and soy sauce, so clearly, it is an essential staple in Japan. The result of this type of fermentation brings up gorgeous umami flavors that will elevate any meal. So many snacks, dishes, and beverages can benefit from koji.
Takamine Japanese whiskey has an eight-year-old koji spirit. Spirit Almonds have a koji salt almond snack, and amazake is a creamy koji rice drink you can make or buy. There are a plethora of recipes to try that incorporate koji. To get started, you can buy your own starter culture, or buy premade koji by Cold Mountain from MTC Kitchen or Marukome. Then, try your hand at cooking with koji.
- Tasting Table, “17 Food And Beverage Trends To Look For In 2023”
As Japanese consumers continue to swap beer, wine and cocktails over sake, the country’s national drink, industry experts think the doburoku sake variety could revive the dwindling sake market.
Doburoku is the catch-all term for sake that is unfiltered and gently carbonated. Described as rustic, cloudy and soupy, the drink’s brewing process doesn’t follow traditional sake rules. Brewers experiment with flavors, making it sweet or savory. It’s a “hyperlocal expression of soil and culture is its trademark,” reads an article on digital beverage publication Punch. Doburoku is typically unpasteurized, brewed in small batches.
There are only around 200 doburoku brewers in Japan, many who are farmers running small inns and restaurants. Only about two dozen of Japan’s 1,500 sake brewers make doburoku.
“At Heiwa Doburoku Kabutocho Brewery, the drink comes plain or aged, but also with unusual variations: dry-hopped, infused with matcha, mashed with persimmons, or blended with azuki beans, in part to tone down the alcoholic sharpness that many among sake’s detractors find off-putting,” continues the article. After fermenting the rice, koji and yeast for about two weeks, most of Heiwa’s doburoku is made in 7-liter pots in a backroom of the bar.
Norimasa Yamamoto, Heiwa Shuzou’s fourth-generation president, hopes to generate interest in sake by putting a “modern spin on the old-fashionred drink. …I’m hoping that, once you’ve tried doburoku, you’ll become curious enough about our rice fermentation tradition to delve into sake,” he says.
Read more (Punch)
Serious Eats features a series of articles on fermented drinks in their latest digital issue, “Bubbles.” Bubbles are the “negative space” in food which contribute to food flavor and fermentation. The long-form articles dive into kombucha, tepache, coffee and explore how the beer industry is adapting with a CO2 shortage.
“It’s easy to look past the pockets of air that occupy so much of what we eat, but food as we know it wouldn’t be recognizable without them,” reads the editor letter describing the new article series. “Bubbles inflate breads, lighten cakes and batters, aerate creams and mousses, and add fizz to so many drinks. They’re a byproduct of fermentation, a critical determinant of texture, the thing that makes your eyes water as you let out an Aaahhhhhhhhhh after that first spicy sip of cold soda or beer. So much of what defines our food is all the stuff that’s not there.”
Read more (Serious Eats)