Sunday, April 5, 2009


Every culture uses fermentation of food to preserve it, enhance flavor and add variety as well as for the well-documented health benefits. "The origin of fermented foods is lost in antiquity, but fermentation is one of man’s oldest attempts at food preservation and preparation. There are biblical references to fermented wine production and recorded indications of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-626 BCE) on what he considered to be the best wines of his time. Fermentation, however, predates even these early writings. It is suspected that the natural fermentation processes for grains and dairy led to the development of beer, wine, cheese and yogurt about the time early man moved away from a hunter-gatherer society into an agriculture-based society. To survive, ancient man had to harness nature. Food begins to spoil the moment it is harvested, but food preservation enabled man to put down roots, live in one place, and form communities. He no longer had to consume the kill or the harvest immediately." (taken from, Fermentation and its Health Benefits by Robert L. Lawrence M.ed., D.C., D.A.C.B.N.)

Microorganisms are natures recyclers. "There is something fascinating about microorganisms," says Lawrence. "They are everywhere—in the air, in water, in food, and in our bodies. They are invisible and without number, capable of multiplying with extraordinary rapidity. Some are agents of illness and even of death—but some are the very foundation of life and health."

Some of the benefits of fermentation Lawrence describes in his paper are these:

* Renders food resistant to microbial spoilage and the development of toxins.
* Inhibits the transfer of pathogenic organisms.
* Improves digestion and nutrient absorption of food.
* Preserves food between the time of harvest and consumption.
* Enhances flavor and nutritional value.

If you glanced through those quickly, read them again. That's an impressive list! Can you imagine the wide range of health benefits fermented foods have for the human body?

In recent time we've outgrown fermented foods, we have quicker, more consistent ways of preserving foods. Our new ways have the benefit of giving the food a more uniform look and texture and giving the food a longer shelf life. However, they do NOT provide any of the above benefits.

The process of fermentation is different for different kinds of food, it takes time, usually attention and always patience--things we seem to be short on these days. Luckily there are natural stores that carry beneficial fermented products. Yogurt, Keifer, Miso, Tofu, Vinegar, Tamari or Soy Sauce and Sour Kraut, just to name a few. Check labels for something like "Live & active cultures."

Try using vinegars on salads and main dishes. I've just discovered Annona Gourmet, a local store that carries many exotic and delicious olive oils and vinegars. The owner will let you taste! You can even buy a few then mix and match. Check it out if you live anywhere near Northeast Minneapolis.

You can also try making yogurt at home. Click here.

All this talk about patience and process seems like it could be good for the soul as well. I definitely think there's a lesson to be learned here. God places examples for us all through creation. Yes, He cares about our physical health, but He's even more concerned about the health of our eternal spirit. How about trying an experiment in spiritual fermentation?

Try this for 20 minutes:
Read one passage in the Bible. It can be one verse or one paragraph. Read it again a number of times. Meditate on what it means to you personally. How does it apply? What does it ask or expect you to do? What does it say about God's character or His will? How does it make you feel? Ask Jesus what you need to learn from this passage. Listen.

Can't you feel those spiritual microorganisms multiplying and strengthening??

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