Blending ancestral kitchen traditions and new scientific research will allow fermentation to change our diet — and our planet.
In a TEDx Talk, Mara King, co-founder of fermented food store Ozukè, shares why she is proudly releasing trillions of good bacteria into the population. Her food philosophy rubs against everything the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments practice. While government agencies enforce strict sanitation standards in the name of protecting American’s food, King preaches that it’s wiping out good bacteria and dumping more toxins into the environment.
When King and co-founder Willow King (no relation) opened their Colorado-based food business, a food scientist from the Denver office of the Health & Human Services Department performed a safety inspection. The food expert was confused by Ozukè’s live, fermented pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi. King: “He said ‘Your product is so weird. We follow all these FDA guidelines in food manufacturing in order to diminish bacteria and here you are making it on purpose.’”
“The food we make is actually super, super, super safe, unlike mots processed packaged fresh foods,” King says. “The reason this food is so safe is not because I’m better at this antimicrobial Macarena than anybody else. It’s because the bacteria are doing the work of making the fermented foods pretty much bomb proof.”
Though numerous cultures have been fermenting for generations (“It’s how humans have been eating raw, crunchy vegetables all through hard winters.”), King notes it’s only in the last 10 years that scientists have been able to map the complex fermentation process. By letting bacteria thrive in its own ecosystem, it “creates a food that’s no longer harmful to humans” and makes a more nutritious product.
“Nature does not operate in a vacuum and neither should we,” King says. “We need to understand the complexity of the world in which we live, then we can start to come up with solutions that do honor our heritage.”
King, who great up in Hong Kong, says older Chinese women store an impressive knowledge of food and medicine. Merging ancient tradition with new science is what will create the living solutions needed to continue living on our planet.
“In fermentation, we have a little trick that we use which is called using a started culture or a mother. I believe that our starter culture…is our human cultural history,” King says. “Once we start tapping this information…we’ll start to come up with amazing solutions, solutions that grow, solutions that rot, solutions that breath.”
Today Ozuke (which means “the best pickled things” in Japanese) still makes pickled veggies, but also teaches fermentation workshops. For more information, visit their webpage.
Ever thrown out a jar of kimchi because of those pesky white mold bubbles? Fear not – it’s not mold, it’s yeast! Researchers say just skim it off, rinse the veggie, heat it and it’s totally safe to eat. The World Institute of Kimchi (WiKim) released a study on the hygienic safety of the yeast strains that form on kimchi, a report which was published in the Journal of Microbiology. WiKim General Director Dr. Jaeho Ha said the study is significant because “it is a step forward toward the alleviation of the anxiety for hygienic safety of kimchi.”
Read more (Phys.org)
Fermentation is dominating 2019 food prediction lists. The New York Times says fermented foods and fermented drinks will rule in 2019. The year’s flavor profile will be “Sour and funky, with shades of heat,” melding fermented ingredients with millennial taste buds. Probiotics and prebiotics will continue to reign as consumers focus on gut health. “As the obsession with digestive health dovetails with the fascination for fermenting, kimchi, sauerkraut and pickled things will work their way into new territory. Smoothies with kefir will be popular, and kombucha will show up in unexpected places like salad dressings,” the article continues. What will you be eating in 2019?
Read more (New York Times)
Kimchi is a scientifically proven safeguard against the flu. New research proves, with fall flu season around the corner, we should stock up on kimchi. The fermented Korean food has an antiviral effect that stops the growth of the influenza virus. Flu-infected mice that ate kimchi had a higher survival rate and lost less weight. The study also referenced the 2003 SARS pandemic in Hong Kong and China — Korea was the only place where few people were infected with the virus, attributed to Korean’s love of kimchi. Study results were published in the Journal of Microbiology.
Read more (PR Newswire)
Great news for kimchi producers wanting to expand to vegan products. A new study from researchers at Brown University found that vegan kimchi made with miso paste instead of fish sauce or brined shrimp produces the same final healthy bacteria as traditional kimchi. This is because of “the selective pressure of the fermentation environment” which is so powerful that a new ingredient doesn’t impact the bacterial community.
More consumers are buying kimchi. A market analysis of the Korean fermented vegetable dish found that, globally, kimchi sales will grow by 20-45% a year through 2022. Since 2012, the kimchi market has steadily grown in the U.S. and India.
A growing population of Korean Americans means an uptick in Korean restaurants across the U.S. The new Her Name is Han in NYC serves modern twists on Korean soul food. Fermented dishes include radish kimchi jambalaya, banana-flavored rice beer and homemade ssamjang (fermented soy bean sauce).
Food & Ferments is making headlines for their 1st place prize for their Hearts on Fire flavored kraut in the national Good Food Awards.Dave and Carly Dougherty run the Central NY biz and make sauerkrauts, kimchi, kvass and tonics.