I have gone on an extremely indulgent ferment kick. Ferments are everywhere of course -- wine, cheese, beer, sauces, chocolate, vinegar, yogurt, salami,tea leaves, coffee beans, etc -- but mostly you are eating dead flesh.
As the vampire asked of Igor: "Don't you have anything alive!?"
I tell you Louis Pasteur has a lot to answer for!
We inherit a food culture that fears germs and seeks to kill them all for the sake of offing a few nasties.
But live ferments -- the lactobacillus ones -- are something else entirely, and if you want to eat those you will mostly need to cultivate them at home.
First up, you'd bother with that because the flavours are delicious. In the case of vegetable ferments, I'm talking taste very much richer and nuanced than your sterile store bought pickles. Instead of relying on salt and pasteurized vinegars, lacto-ferments are grown by microbes.
In my climate: grown in one week or more..but the longer you ferment, the larger will be the range of lactobacillus that sign on.
For example: sauerkraut takes at least 20 days to ferment.
In contrast, yogurt takes 6-12 hours...although that too has different helpers at different stages and temperatures.
The other great thing about ferments is that they are so darn healthy. In effect they pre-digest food and bring out greater nutrient potentials,while suppressing the impact of problematical content (like lactose and gluten proteins), even enriching vitamin content. But since they are alive with microbes their consumption enhances your own gut microbiome.
A cow, and other ruminants, doesn't so much 'eat' food as ferment it via its 4 stomachs which serve as fermenting vats. A cow, in effect, is a fermenting factory with an animal attached.
How good is that? Current research is very supportive as the new science of the microbiome suggests that our gut flora may rule much of our existence.
So wouldn't a daily tub of yogurt suffice?
Maybe not, for the simple reason that we eat our foods in tandem with each other and different foods are metabolised variously depending on many attributes and synergies. The prospect that impresses me is the perspective of eating live ferments with every meal.
This option isn't far fetched at all as so many cultures are defined by their ferments -- Italians with wine, Koreans with kimchi, Germans with sauerkraut, Turks with yogurt, Japanese with soy, Malaysians with Sambal Belacan...
I even ferment my porridge overnight...not because I'm an obsessed nutter( although that may be true) but because that was the traditional way that oats were prepared.Folk pre-soaked their grains before eating them.
AND IN THE GARDEN TOO
Then there is the option you don't expect: garden fertilizer. It's the new rage in horticulture: brewing fertilizers. It isn't about adding Nitrogen or Phosphorus or Potassium -- it's about microbe farming -- encouraging the creatures of the soil to do the biochemistry for you.It's the new science supporting Regenerative Agriculture & Agroecology...and it has a massive impact on carbon sequestration and a soil's water holding capacity.
And I brew my own garden probiotics primarily on a concoction based on aloe vera ferments.
Get your head around that for a moment...
We are treating the soil the same way we treat our own guts.
For every human cell we own, there are roughly 10 single-celled microbes, most of which live in our digestive tract.
One teaspoon (1 gram) of rich garden soil can hold up to one billion bacteria, several yards of fungal filaments, several thousand protozoa, and scores of nematodes...
Looks like Genesis had its moments of insight (albeit with one update):
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust and microbes you are and to dust and microbes you will return."