By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
Food has been fermented for centuries. It started out as a necessity for our ancestors, who had no way of keeping food fresh, but has since turned into a health revolution. Fermentation started back sometime around 6000 B.C, or maybe even earlier, when ingredients were taken and fermented into beer and wine. Slowly other things began to be fermented, and different cultures started fermenting ingredients only available in their regions, which led to all the crazy fermented foods available to us today!
Fermented foods have recently become all the rage in the health world, and it’s all thanks to the probiotics that they contain. Probiotics, if you haven’t heard, are live bacteria that are good for your gut. You already have naturally occurring bacteria in your body, some good and some bad, and probiotics are there for some extra support when you need it. According to WebMD, probiotics can help you gain back good bacteria that you’ve lost, they can help rid your body of bad bacteria that is making you sick, and they can help to keep your body’s bacteria levels in check. Health care professionals recommend the use of probiotics in food to calm upset stomachs and to relieve symptoms like diarrhea. Probiotic rich foods are also great for aiding digestion, which is why many fermented foods were created to be side dishes or drinks that accompany meals.
All over the globe there are different fermented foods and drinks that certain cultures and peoples have been including in their diets for a long time. For example, sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is attributed to the Germans because it was and still is widely popular there, but sauerkraut was actually first concocted by the Chinese over 2,000 years ago. It was adopted by the German’s and is now popular worldwide.
Another example of a popular fermented food is kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean side dish that has been around since before the 1400s. Like sauerkraut, it is also made with cabbage. In its beginnings, it was a simple side to Korean cuisine, and helped to aid with digestion. Now it is popular as a side for its taste and cultural significance.
One last fermented food that most people eat quite often is yogurt. One usually wouldn’t think of yogurt as ‘fermented’ necessarily, but technically with its live and active cultures, it is! Yogurt has been around since almost 10,000 B.C, and today it continues to be a well-known digestive aid, and tasty snack!
So, with our new found knowledge, we can definitely say fermented foods are good, not gross! They are helpful with digestion, upset tummies and an array of other stomach problems, and they don’t taste too bad either! For recipes and more information don’t forget to check out fillyourplate.org!