We cannot write-off pasteurized ferments as the dead, less healthy cousin to its unpasteurized, live relative. All fermented foods provide health benefits, pasteurized or not. We also need to avoid getting caught up in superfluous health claims around fermentation’s benefits. Instead, we should focus on including fermentation as part of a regular diet.

David Zilber explored how the microbial transformation of food intersects with our gut microbes during Stanford University’s Center for Human Microbiome Studies Fermentation & Health Speaker Series. With growing scientific interest in fermentation – and increasing interest from consumers – the health benefits become cloudy in marketing claims.  

“If you eat regularly foods full of life, life that lives regularly in the foods you consume but also inside of you, then you can be said to be a ranger taking care of a healthy forest,” Zilber said. “The health benefits of fermented foods should equally be viewed as being meaningful when they turn into a regimen, like exercise.”

Health Claims

A 2021 study by Stanford researchers published in the journal Cell found regularly eating fermented foods boost microbiome diversity, improves immune response and decreases inflammation. But marketing of fermented products is often shrouded in hearsay.

“As far as health claims go…(there are) sometimes outlandish claims made by Westerners about cure-all superfoods that disproportionately, and I quote from one study I found, ‘Seemed to benefit the individuals that sell them the most,’” Zilber said.

Take kombucha, for example. He rattled off a list of health problems kombucha founders have claimed the fermented tea has cured, from AIDS to cancer to constipation.

“The problem is that all these claims seem to come, in one form or another, from anecdotes of people who drink kombucha and have lived a life,” he added. They’re not researched in reputable cohort studies. “This is why it’s sometimes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to fermentation. The people who want to believe the benefits only decry its Praises when a positive correlation is made but they also tend to speak the loudest.”

Zilber pointed out that consuming fermented foods, whether or not it’s a product with proven health benefits, is certainly still beneficial. Eating fermented foods regularly means “you’re also omitting a whole slew of other foods” prevalent in a Western diet, like highly-processed and chemically-preserved foods.

“If you put kimchi on your plate at dinner, you leave off mashed potatoes. If you use water kefir as your drink with it, you aren’t drinking Coke,” he said. “And that’s an important link we also can’t forget, when it comes to thinking about the health benefits of fermented foods, they are in many means inherently healthy.”

Many cultures have fermented for thousands of years to preserve food. In Tibet, yak herders rely on cultural wisdom passed down from generations to ferment yak’s milk for milk and butter. 

“We’ve evolved alongside our microbes both evolutionarily and culturally,” Zilber added. “To Tibetans their folk knowledge of what leads them to Long lives and health is intrinsically tied to the practices of preservation that have allowed them to thrive in some of the most rarified air on Earth.”

Pasteurized vs. Unpasteurized

What about purchasing pasteurized vs. unpasteurized ferments? Unpasteurized ferments include live microbes, but that doesn’t mean pasteurized ferments aren’t healthy.

“Sometimes in cooking, if you’re looking to achieve a great flavor, sometimes you have to kill microbes because you have to pasteurize them for whatever number of reasons,” Zilber added. But it doesn’t mean that the food is somehow not worth eating, it just means that it’s not live, but it still contains lots of benefits. … There is a benefit to consuming something that microbes have lived through, even if it’s not pasteurized.”

Elisa Caffrey, the speaker series host and a Stanford PhD candidate, agrees. The benefits of unpasteurized ferments have not been studied. During fermentation, Caffrey notes, the microbes are producing metabolites still present during pasteurization. A complete study would characterize the metabolites over the course of the fermentation process, identify chemical compounds and then analyze the compounds for their benefits. 

“That landscape we don’t understand at all and it’s a very, very interesting world to start exploring,” she said. “Until we start understanding all the different components of these foods and the way that they interact with not only the microbes in fermented foods with each other but also with the body, it’s really hard to then make these very generalized health claims.”
Caffrey, Zilber and Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford, host the Fermentation & Health Speaker Series. The series will explore the topic over the next few months with different speakers ranging from a scientist, food researcher and pickle producer. Registration is free.

Fermentation is Not a Trend

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.

Michigan

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.

Minnesota

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.

Mississippi

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.

Missouri

HB1697 — Allows cottage food producers to sell food over the internet. Removes the $50,000 annual sales limit for cottage food producers.

New Hampshire

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. 

New Jersey

AB462 —  Permits pedicabs to operate while passengers are consuming alcoholic beverages.

AB3991 —  Exempts raw, unprocessed honey from the health department’s cottage food regulations.

New York

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.

North Carolina

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.

Ohio

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.

Oklahoma

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.

Pennsylvania

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). 

Rhode Island

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.

South Dakota

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.

Tennessee

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.

Utah

HB142 — Allows wild game to be donated to food banks and charitable organizations. 

Virginia

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.

Washington

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.

Though research about the gut-brain axis is a “growing, pioneering and still relatively novel field,” scientists say humans can improve their mental health by eating a balanced diet rich in fermented foods.

Changes in the gut microbiome can impact the brain’s behavior. Research advancements in the last 20 years “suggest that these (gut) microorganisms aren’t just a vital part of our physical selves, but also our mental and emotional selves, too.” This can be a major breakthrough in how mental health is treated. 

For example, one study found individuals with depression have different gut bacteria compared to individuals without depression. Those without depression have a higher amount of bacteria associated with better wellbeing and quality of life. Antidepressants didn’t help. Another study found taking certain probiotic strains improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. And yet another study found taking prebiotics improved the brain’s cognitive function.

But research is still in its early stages. Though some strains of bacteria have been scientifically proven “to have a positive effect on the human mind,” researchers don’t know why and how. Genetics, personality and environmental factors have also not been studied. More large-scale human studies are needed – and those studies are extremely expensive.

In the meantime, John Cryan, a professor of anatomy and neuroscience at University College Cork, encourages people to eat a diet high in fiber, prebiotics and fermented foods. A study by Cryan and his colleagues found that diet 

Cryan and his colleagues studies 45 people eating that diet and found they were less stressed than the control group. 

“What I like about fermented foods is that they democratize the science,” says Cryan. “They don’t really cost much and you don’t have to get them from some fancy store. You can do it yourself. In this field, we want to provide mental health solutions to people from all socioeconomic areas.”

Read more (BBC)

Noma – the New Nordic restaurant that inspired the restaurant fermentation movement – announced it will be closing in 2024, reopening as a food lab. This reiteration (owner René Redzepi calls it Noma 3.0) will focus on developing new dishes and products for Noma Projects, Noma’s e-commerce, CPG operation. 

Within days of the news, Noma announced the hire of Arielle Johnson, PhD, as Noma Projects’ Science Director. Johnson, a flavor scientist, food chemist and gastronomy researcher, co-founded the Noma Fermentation Lab in 2014.

Since first opening two decades ago, Noma has been named one of the world’s best restaurants. The announcement shocked the restaurant industry as Noma is seemingly at the top of their game. Noma redefined fine dining – meals at Noma were largely local, Nordic ingredients turned into artistically beautiful and culinarily unique dishes.  

“The style of fine dining that Noma helped create and promote around the globe — wildly innovative, labor-intensive and vastly expensive — may be undergoing a sustainability crisis,” writes the New York Times. 

Redzepi himself says the long hours and fair compensation for the large team “is not workable.” Noma came under fire for their stagiaire program, the term for unpaid restaurant interns. Noma started paying their interns in October 2022.

“We have to completely rethink the industry,” he told the Times. “This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way.”

“Fine dining is at a crossroads, and there have to be huge changes,” he said. “The whole industry realizes that, but they do not know how it’s going to come out.”

Read more (New York Times)

When demand in Vietnam for Song Huong Foods (SHG) fermented foods began to wane, brand owner Nguyen Le Quoc Tuan decided to take the brand overseas. 

The 20-year-old ferments company is most famous for their ferments, like pickles, seafood, eggplant, sauces and pastes. But, after the pandemic, a number of Vietnamese stores selling SHG products shut down. So Tuan, knowing Vietnamese expats love to eat Vietnamese specialties, turned to U.S. exports.

After six months of food safety tests and certification from the U.S. FDA, SHG released in 32 U.S. states in December 2022, “just before the upcoming Lunar New Year,” Tuan said. 

Their distributor, CTWS Group, an Asian food wholesale distributor, said it’s the first time fermented products from Vietnam are sold in the U.S. 

Local production has been a challenge, so supplies are still sourced from Vietnam. Tuan’s goal is to expand in the U.S., eventually selling in Costco, then export to Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Russia and China.

Read more (VnExpress)

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).

Alabama

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.

Alaska

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.

Arizona

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. 

California

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.

Colorado

HB1017 — Increases the amount of alcohol beverages brought into the state that would be exempt from taxes.

Connecticut

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. 

Delaware

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.

Georgia

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.

Hawaii

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.

Idaho

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.

Illinois

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.

Indiana

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.

Iowa

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.

Kansas

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. 

Kentucky

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.

Louisiana

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.

Maine

LD1503 — Prohibits the use of toxic “forever chemicals” called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various products, including food packaging and cookware.

Maryland 

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.

Fermenting Wild Foods

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).”

Ugly Fruit into Delicious Kombucha

A new Los Angeles-based kombucha brand has a unique approach to their fermented tea. Sunset Cultures owner and chef Balo Orozco (pictured) uses the unsold or “ugly” fruits and vegetables from local farms into “some of L.A.’s most creative kombuchas, hot sauces and condiments.”    

Staying true to his goal of curbing food waste and helping local farmers is certainly not easy. Orozco spends much of his days driving across the state to pick up boxes or pallets of produce that would otherwise be thrown away or composted. Another challenge: the kombucha flavors and condiment offerings change with the amount and type of surplus product Orozco receives from farmers. (Sunset Cultures does consistently sell four core kombucha flavors).

Orozco’s roots are in the restaurant industry. As a chef, he was alarmed at the amount of kitchen waste restaurants would throw away. His specialty soon switched to reusing kitchen scraps and fermenting house-produced condiments. After the last restaurant he worked at folded due to the pandemic, he began working on Sunset Cultures.

Sunset Cultures products are always changing and adapting based on available products. In the last six months, Sunset Cultures began making jam, a solution to their own wasted byproduct from the lightly boiled strawberries used in their kombucha. 

Sunset Cultures products are currently sold in 40 retail shops and online, with plans to expand to other cities in 2023. 

Read more (Los Angeles Times)

Fermenting Sustainable Food

The food industry is at the center of multiple bottlenecks hurting food production – global food crisis, extreme weather, supply chain disruption, inflation and geopolitical conflict. Researchers at Singapore’s prestigious Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have found a sustainable food solution: fermentation.

An article in New Food Magazine details the fermentation innovations of NTU and how they’re fermenting the edible by-products of food manufacturing to produce new food. Their food studies found great promise in okara (the “insoluble remains of soybeans from the production of soy milk and beancurd”) and spent grain (the “residual barley pulp from the beer industry”).

“Fermentation is a way to repurpose okara, a major food manufacturing side stream that is often discarded, and transform it into a highly nutritious food,” says Dr. Ken Lee (pictured), senior lecturer at NTU’s School of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, who led a study published in LWT – Food Science and Technology.  

The study showed okara fermented with a mixed culture of the fungus Aspergillus oryzae and the bacterium Bacillus subtilis made a nutritional-rich food. This inoculated fermentation process is also used to make soy sauce.

Fermenting spent grain also makes a nutrient-rich, upcycled food: a protein-rich food emulsifier. A separate study by NTU researchers published in Food Chemistry found that plant-based food can replace dairy and eggs in condiments like mayonnaise, dressings and whipped cream.

“Upcycling food waste such as spent grain for human consumption is an opportunity for enhancing processing efficiency in the food supply chain, as well as potentially promoting a healthier plant-based protein alternative to enrich diets,” says Professor William Chen, professor and director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology Programme.

Read more (New Food Magazine)