5 Notable Food Revolutionaries - KCRW Blog
March 16, 2011 - Evan Kleiman
So much attention is being paid to food right now. Whether it’s Anthony Bourdain traveling the world or Alice Waters starting a school garden, people want to know about food. From growing it, cooking it, and eating it to learning about food culture and politics food is definitely the new black. So I thought I’d share 5 names with you. These are people I consider Revolutionaries in the world of food.
Good Food Host, Evan Kleiman
2. Sandor Katz
A self-proclaimed “Fermentation Fetishist,” he preaches the gospel of “good bacteria.” Katz has AIDS and has looked to fermented foods as a critical part of his healing. Listen to my interview with Sandor Katz here.
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In a Pickle - Foodies are freaking for all things fermented
TrendCentral - January 17, 2011
Several recent food trends, from hemp to CSAs, have decidedly hippie roots, and the latest is no exception. Although fermented grub has been omnipresent on food trucks and in bars for a while now, this seems to be the year in which it will go beyond your typical kimchi and briny picklebacks. With considerable airtime being given to the importance of probiotics, bacteria has never been so popular.
Fermentation Cookbook: Authored by Sandor Ellix Katz, a self-described “fermentation fetishist,” Wild Fermentation is touted as the most comprehensive fermentation cookbook ever published. At the least, it’s the de facto user guide for today’s fermentation enthusiasts, many of whom flock to hear Katz speak at his frequent public appearances. Food bloggers and DIY’ers alike are posting his recipes online—his kombucha shows up on Brooklyn Feed and his sauerkraut is featured on Boing Boing. Even The New Yorker praised Katz’s work as aiding “opportunivores” in the preservation of their dumpster dive findings. Katz’s Flower Wine recipe, celebrated in Portland rag Willamette Week, is a boozy delight made from freshly picked flowers and the yeast of wild berries. Too bad it takes nine months to age.
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Fermented Foods. We Need Them
Gloucester Times - January 19, 2011
Mankind has been preserving food through fermentation artfully for thousands of years, and accidentally for many more. As Sandor Katz, fermentation expert and the author of "Wild Fermentation," explains, it has always been a regional — think of the blocks of salted fish hanging on Gloucester's docks — if not household process, not dangerous, not precarious, not perilously demanding of sterilization. It was loose and yet artful, as fickle and mysterious as the invisible bacteria that make it happen.
"I know of no food that is without a history of fermentation," Katz says.
Every culture has done it.
Except, most recently, ours. With the advent of pasteurized, homogenous foods, the need for — and taste for — fermented food products has almost been lost to us western grocery-store shoppers. In the past 50 years we've almost completely eliminated a complicated food group that civilized mankind has never lived without. This loss may also mean the loss of important nutrients never before absent in our diets...
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Turnip sauerkraut -- turning the humble into the spectacular
Salon.com - January 14, 2011
Make turnip sauerkraut. You heard me. Hey, where are you going? Come back, this stuff is great! Really!
My special ladyfriend is fond of repeating something she heard once: that the two signs of senility in men are comparison shopping and pickling. And despite the fact that I now live in Brooklyn, the Look-At-Me-I'm-Pickling capital of the developed world, who can honestly be excited about senility and sauerkraut?
So it's a mystery even to me that I curled up in bed one night with Sandor Katz's wildly influential pickling how-to Wild Fermentation, aka The Guide to Living Comfortably with Memory Loss. And I woke up the next morning so excited to shred and salt turnips for an unusual sauerkraut that I was there, in my kitchen, doing it in my shorts. Pants would come later. That is probably not a good sign. But the results, I can say after a healthy munch this morning, are definitely worth it.
Katz --in a fascinating story on him by Burkhard Bilger in the New Yorker -- describes the friendship we have with bacteria, and nowhere is that more clear in our diets than in intentionally fermented foods. Before you make the gross-face at the f-word, keep in mind that these foods include beer, wine, cheeses, yogurt (lovely, lovely yogurt), dry sausages, bread and of course pickles...
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The Benefits of Probiotics
Eating Well - November/December 2010
For years, Sandor Katz has been fermenting foods, convinced that the probiotics they contain are keeping him healthy despite his compromised immune system.
To hear Sandor Katz tell it, our world would be a very different place without fermented food. It’s not merely that we wouldn’t have much of the fare we cherish most: wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, to name but a few.
Indeed, says Katz, without fermentation and the preservative qualities it imparts, we’d never have built cities, or cars, or iPads, because we’d never have evolved from our hunter-gatherer status. “We could not have developed agricultural societies without the fermenting techniques that allowed us to store food,” says Katz, a tall man of 47, with an unruly mop of hair and thick muttonchops that connect to an equally vigorous mustache.
Fermentation is a process whereby carbohydrates in a food or beverage break down to form alcohol—in the case of wine and beer—or lactic acid, which preserves foods. (In the latter scenario, also called lacto-fermentation, “good” bacteria, or probiotics, drive the transformation.)
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On the Menu for Christmas Dinner: Roadkill
Going Green, Following a 'Sustainable' Lifestyle, Has One Couple Eating 'Street Meat'
ABC News - Dec. 24, 2010
Denali Delmar and her husband are cooking a Christmas feast this year: fresh vegetables from their garden and a venison roast, slow-cooked with onions, red wine, lemon zest, chicken broth and prunes. Sound good? There's one catch -- the venison is roadkill.
"We cut down our Christmas tree, have our own potatoes and carrots and roadkill venison for dinner," Delmar said. "It's really tender and delicious."
Delmar and her husband started eating roadkill after reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma," which details how animals are treated at factory farms.
"We are deeply offended by the way animals are treated in factory farms. We thought it made an awful lot of sense to harvest animals that have had terrific lives," Delmar said.
Delmar began raising chickens on her Westford, Mass., farm, and her husband took up bow hunting to live a more self-sufficient life in which they didn't have to rely on the meat sold in grocery stores.
"We eat a lot of local food, and we support the local farmers' market," Delmar said. "Others might call us locavores; we just call ourselves conscientious folks who are eating as healthy as we can."
In 2008, a winter drive sparked an idea.
"We were driving down the street and there was a police car pulled over because the car had hit a deer," Delmar said. "We talked to the cop, and he said that we couldn't have deer because there's a list for those who harvest roadkill."
The couple put their names on the list, and since 2009, they've been taking home deer that have been killed in car accidents. In their Massachusetts town, eight people are on the list, Delmar said.
Sandor Katz, the author of "The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements," said that eating roadkill is nothing new.
"The idea of eating roadkill is certainly as old as the motor vehicle," Katz said.
The latest research by the Federal Highway Administration shows that each year there are between 1 million and 2 million car accidents involving wild animals.
Eating roadkill has become more popular, and it's even gone gourmet. There are cookbooks devoted to the meat.
In England, a man known as Fergus the Forager gives tours teaching people how to cook roadkill -- everything from badgers to squirrels to seagulls.
Katz said that eating roadkill is an increasingly viable alternative for those who object to the path animals take to get to the grocery store meat section. Katz, in his book, said that 250,000 animals are killed by cars each day.
"There are lots of valuable reasons to minimize or abstain from mass-produced commercial meat," Katz said. "One alternative is hunting. Another alternative is patronizing smaller-scale farms; another alternative is not eating meat; and yet another is to tap into the waste stream of animals killed by most vehicles."
Read the entire article at ABC News
Drinking is Getting Hard: Hooked on Hard Cider
Low on the Hog Blog - Thursday, December 9, 2010
Way back when I was in Culinary School, I took an elective class on Fermentation. One suggested read was Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. I quickly picked it up and have tried only a couple recipes from it (tempeh, mead). But recently I decided that with so much delicious apple cider coming into Chicago from Michigan, I wanted to try my hand at a homemade Hard Cider. The recipe is really only quite simple instructions, so I doubt it would violate any legal grounds to simply explain it in my words:
Grab a gallon of fresh cider, without any preservatives or any over-modifying procedures. All ciders sold around here are pasteurized. Many contain preservatives. So look for those with one ingredient, apple cider. I found Hy's Cider from Romeo, Michigan at Whole Foods for $5.99 a gallon. I had a couple old empty "Louisiana Hot Sauce" jugs so I washed and sanitized one well. I then poured the cider into the jug and covered the opening with some cheesecloth for a couple days while storing it in my pantry at 65˚.
Read the entire article over at Low on the Hog.
The Jew and the Carrot blog
(Jewish Daily Foreward)
“The Passionate Pickler”
By Aaron Kagan
Traditional Ashkenazi cuisine without fermented foods would be unrecognizable, not to mention less tangy. Latkes would be served without sour cream, and with no corned beef or sauerkraut, a deli sandwich at Katz’s would be nothing more than two vacant pieces of rye toast, unaccompanied by a sour pickle no less. Passover seders would have no wine, and without yeast, we’d be stuck with the bread of affliction all 353 to 385 days a (Jewish) year.
Thank goodness, then, for Sandor Katz, aka “Sandorkraut.” Katz is a food activist and fermentation revivalist who specializes in pickled foods from around the world. “[There are] Korean style pickles and Indian style pickles and Lebanese style pickles. People in most parts of the world have some sort of pickles that actually are important parts of their cuisine,” he says. His book, the 2003 Wild Fermentation, a DIY fermented foods bible, includes recipes for everything from kimchi made with fruit to Gv-No-He-Nv, a sour corn drink from the Cherokee tradition.
Read the rest, including two recipes on The Jew & the Carrot.
Fermentation: A wild way to make food come to life
By Kristen Hinman
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; 10:14 AM
Friendly bacteria might not be an easy notion to wrap your brain around in the context of food these days.
Monica Corrado says bring ‘em on. And she’s not the only one.
Pack raw food into a jar, then seal it to keep out air, says the Takoma Park teacher of lactofermentation. Leave at room temperature and let feisty, naturally occurring microbes go to town for several days or even weeks. Open. Taste. Feast.
To see Corrado lick her lips after lapping up some of her “live” homemade ketchup, to watch her eyes dance as she opens a jar of her bubbling salsa and, yes, to taste her hissing peach chutney, redolent with crushed red pepper, is to concede that she might be on to something.
Part science, part art, lactofermentation is an ancient method of food preservation using live bacterial cultures. Anathema though it may seem to a generation of antibacterial hand-gel obsessives, the technique is increasingly being embraced by DIY aficionados and whole-food advocates who like the idea of low-tech preservation and also believe that unpasteurized foods aid digestion and boost immunity.
As Corrado puts it, “We’re live people. We’re not meant to eat only dead food!”
“I would say 99.999 percent of people in the United States eat fermented foods every single day,” says Sandor Ellix Katz, author of “Wild Fermentation” (Chelsea Green, 2003). “Bread, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, coffee, tea, chocolate, salami: Many everyday foods are produced by microorganisms and fermentation. Even though it mostly takes place behind factory doors, where nobody has to think about the fact that it’s the cultivation of bacteria that are enabling these foods to grace our table, there they are, everywhere.”
Read the whole article here...
Picking Pickles that Pack a Nutritional Punch
By Yvona Fast
Pickles with Benefits
To get the most nutritional value from pickles, make sure the product has not been heated or pasteurized. Pickling with salt brine does not require food to be sterile; actually, sterility kills the beneficial bacteria. The salinity and acidity of the solution, the temperature of fermentation and the absence of oxygen determine which microorganisms dominate.
Sandor Ellix Katz, author of Wild Fermentation (Chelsea Green Publish-ing Co.), explains: “Most of what is sold in stores as pickles, and even what home canners pickle, are preserved in vinegar. Pickling with hot vinegar preserves by sterilization. Vinegar pickles are extremely convenient for commerce, but they are not alive. Brining creates a salty environment that limits what bacteria can grow and slows them down, but ultimately preserves with acids that the bacteria create. These pickles are alive and dynamic and cannot sit sealed in a jar on a supermarket shelf. Brined pickles are widely available if you know what you’re looking for.”
Read labels and be selective. Buy brined products that contain live or active cultures and have not been processed with heat. Look for fermented foods at local farms, ethnic markets, health food stores and gourmet shops. Ethnic delis or restaurants (German, Polish or Korean) may also carry brined pickles. Or, make your own. Home canning kits and instructions are readily available online.
Brining not only preserves vegetables, it also makes them more digestible and nutritious. Despite their high sodium content, fermented veggies like pickles and sauerkraut are both healthy and tasty. Crisp, cool and salty, they make a great snack on a hot summer day.
Read the whole article here.
Soft Drink for the 21st Century?
May 2007 | Healthy Living
By Jennifer Adler
Popping the cap off a bottle of Kombucha — or “mushroom tea” as it’s known by some — is a complete sensory experience. There’s the snap, crackle, fizz of carbonated bubbles, the mysterious slimy globules that slow-float like a psychedelic lava lamp throwback, and the sharp vinegary tang that hits the nose like a slap.
While fizzy, vinegary and slimy are not exactly the most tantalizing food descriptors, this trendy tea has a peculiar allure that’s winning devotees nationwide. At Google’s California corporate headquarters, the cafeteria slings upwards of 100 cups of homemade brew a day, and GT Kombucha, one of the most popular bottled brands on the market, reaps annual sales in the millions.
Kombucha may be the latest fad, but the stringy, tan-colored concoction has a lengthy history. Experts are divided on its cultural origins, but agree that Kombucha’s roots stretch back to ancient China, where, as early as 221 BC, a tea called “the remedy for immortality” was brewed from fungi said to have magical properties. Kombucha eventually made its way into the natural health world of Germany in the early 20th century, before debuting in the United States among the willing and health-thirsty flower children of the 1960s.
The Mother Sip
To clarify, Kombucha is not a mushroom at all, but a symbiotic colony of yeast and beneficial bacteria that grows in sugar-sweetened black tea. As in any yeast, a “mother” creates or buds a new “baby” with each new batch. Yeast budding makes it very convenient to share and “pass on” the Kombucha craze. Owners of the brown, pancake-sized Kombucha mother have the option to start their own colony by placing the newly budded babes in a mixture of black tea and sugar. Left to rest in a warm, peaceful place, the colony grows until the black tea liquid reaches its desired flavor, in a few days or weeks.
“I can see that Kombucha has live-culture benefits,” offers Sandor Ellix Katz, guru of fizz and author of Wild Fermentation. “But when you can ferment vegetables, milk, beans, honey and so many more wholesome foods, why focus your fermentation practice around sugar and tea?”
Maybe it’s the ancient folklore, maybe it’s the “mother” infatuation, or maybe it’s the name — Kom-Booo-cha. Whatever it is, this bubbly beverage is a certified craze, and even Katz admits to drinking and enjoying it.
“I do believe that Kombucha is full of beneficial live-cultures and enzymes,” he says. “But I am skeptical of the many miracle health claims that people make on its behalf.”
Magical Mystery Sour
Some of those miracle health claims include: detoxification, boosting metabolism, assisting digestion and even curing cancer. Advocates believe that Kombucha works by assisting the liver’s ability to detoxify the body. This hypothesis is due to early observations of increased glucuronic acid conjugates in the urine after Kombucha consumption, a signifier of increased detoxification by the liver. However, more recent analysis of Kombucha offers other explanations for its potential health benefits. First, Kombucha’s high levels of organic acids help maintain proper acid/alkaline balance in the body by promoting tissue and blood alkalinity. The fermented brew is also rich in antioxidants and amino acids, namely L-threonine, which supports healthy protein balance.
A Cornell University study on the tea’s anti-microbial activity found that Kombucha’s acetic acid composition rendered it helpful against a range of pathogenic bacteria. But beyond this sole study, no authoritative research has been performed to prove or disprove the anecdotal raves of Kombucha converts.
In addition to its potential properties as a liver-booster, Kombucha is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria thought to enhance the digestive process. Kombuchanados swear by the drink as a preventative for post-meal heartburn and acid reflux. Some rely on the fizzy bite of Kombucha as an energy boost to battle the dreaded mid-afternoon slump (the tea’s copious quantities of B-vitamins make it a great caffeine-free alternative).
If intrigued, start your own colony (recipe below), or try your luck with some readily available bottled Kombucha, and see if this magical elixir is a match for you.
Jennifer Adler MS, CN provides nutrition counseling at her private practice Realize Health, realize www.health.com. Her Kombucha colony grows in a mason jar atop her fridge.
God of Small Things
An interview with underground foodie hero Sandor Katz
By Tom Philpott
17 May 2007
Like a well-made batch of kefir, the ancient cultured milk drink, Sandor Katz has an effervescent quality. Spend time with him or read his classic Wild Fermentation, and you'll see your food in a new light. Bread, cheese, cured meats, chocolate, beer, wine, vinegar -- all are products of fermentation, he points out: "Virtually all of the compelling, strong flavors that people are passionate about -- they might passionately hate them, or they might passionately love them -- it's fermentation that creates those flavors."
Fermentation is the process of preserving food and transforming its flavor by subjecting it to beneficial bacteria, or microflora. For Katz, fermentation is an essential culinary technique, a health regimen, and a political act. "We humans are in a symbiotic relationship with single-cell organisms," he writes in Wild Fermentation. "Microflora ... digest food into nutrients our bodies can absorb, protect us from potentially dangerous organisms, and teach our immune systems to function." In a country almost clinically obsessed with sterilization -- with waging war on the trillions of dread germs that permeate air, land, water, and our bodies -- Katz reminds us of the forgotten benefits of living in harmony with our microbial relatives.
He also urges us to challenge our roles as unquestioning consumers of the food industry's dubious wares. His message: with everyday ingredients, you, too, can be a producer, not just a consumer -- of some of the most vibrantly flavorful, health-giving foods you've ever had. His critique of the food industry, and celebration of the myriad alternatives bubbling forth to challenge it all over the country, can be found in his new book The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements.
Katz himself is a walking advertisement for the health benefits of foods that are alive with organisms. Since the 1980s, he has lived with HIV. Yet he bristles with energy, touring the nation to deliver fermentation workshops when he's not herding the goats at Short Mountain Sanctuary, the "queer intentional community deep in the wooded hills of Tennessee" where he lives.
Recently, over sips of delicate, profoundly alive-tasting kefir made from raw milk from those goats, we talked about fermentation, food politics, and how the two relate.
To read the article please visit www.grist.org.