Walk through a grocery store, stroll up and down every isle, and one would think that our cities are beaming full of healthy canned fruits and vegetables, and endless rows of packages of preserved foods. At first glance, it seems that America is spilling over with food. But with a second and third glance, things begin to unravel and the truth comes out. Most of America’s food is preserved in ways that damage the health of people who eat it. Food preservation is an important topic to consider when it comes to your health. For the purpose of this article, we will consider the topic of preserved vegetables only.
For generations, folks have preserved their annual harvest and extra produce by canning or by pickling. Today, people mostly go to the grocery store and purchase their preserved vegetables every day of the year, so these skills are being lost. Preserved vegetables have the advantage of being, well, preserved. They stay nice and pretty while sitting on the shelves for months, sometimes years. Some are preserved using heat (canning) while others are preserved using vinegar (pickling). There are usually several isles of preserved fruits and vegetables, both in cans and glass jars, in every grocery store across the country.
The problems with these two forms of food preservation is that they both “kill” the vegetables in the container, thus creating an acidic food. While the contents might still look fine when opening up the can or jar, the food itself is no longer “alive” with enzymes or in its original raw state. The food is preserved, unable to absorb oxygen and begin the process of oxidation in order to decompose. This creates the need for the person’s own body to produce its own enzymes to digest that vegetable, which puts a lot of stress on the digestive system and on the whole body as minerals are depleted from the tissues and bones and used to create digestive enzymes instead. After years of eating acidic food, a person can succumb to the effects of what is known as metabolic acidosis, which leads to diseases such as cancer and diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, and more. Aging is sped up as well, and energy levels suffer from an lack of raw and whole food nutrition.
But 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, humans fermented their vegetables. First by mistake, then on purpose. During the fermentation process, organic vegetables are preserved in quality sea salt and water and the vegetable remains raw for many months in the brine solution. Not only that, but beneficial bacteria that are always found in the air around us also find a home in the brine and begin to multiply, until the brine finally contains billions of bacteria that will assist in the digestion of the vegetable once eaten. The difference between fermented vegetables and canned or pickled ones is their ability to digest easily, and to assist in the digestion of other foods eaten during the day. Fermented vegetables will digest themselves, since they are still alive and bursting with probiotics by the end of the fermentation process. The probiotics found in fermented vegetables will also help to digest the other foods eaten throughout the day, and only a few bites are needed several times a day. This removes the stresses on the body that happen when it has to create its own enzymes that will digest entire meals and break them down into it individual elements that the body can then use for whatever it needs to.
In addition to eliminating the stresses of digestion, fermented foods are known as a “super-food,” capable of playing a major role in the natural healing of diseases. When the person’s gut flora has been re-established using a variety of organic fermented foods, their body is able to digest food properly again and their health and energy levels improve. Dr Joseph Mercola writes:
Fermented foods are potent chelators (detoxifiers) and contain much higher levels of probiotics than probiotic supplements, making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora. In addition to helping break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from your body, beneficial gut bacteria perform a number of surprising functions, including: mineral absorption, producing nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K2 (vitamin K2 and vitamin D are necessary for integrating calcium into your bones and keeping it out of your arteries, thereby reducing your risk for coronary artery disease and stroke), preventing obesity and diabetes, and regulating dietary fat absorption, lowering your risk for cancer, improving your mood and mental health, preventing acne. (click here to read the entire article)
Since fermented foods can be difficult to find in regular grocery stores, you might try searching for them at health food stores in the refrigerated sections near the produce, at farmer’s markets and local farming co-ops or buying clubs, or learn to make them for yourself at home! In the Orlando area, you can purchase fermented foods through the local farm buyer’s club Farm Fresh Direct 2 U, where you can place your order online every two weeks and then pick up your order at a number of drop-off location in south, west, and north Orlando. On the east side of Orlando, you can find fermented vegetables at Traditional Lifestyle Creations, a new Orlando food business that focuses on super-foods and ancestral methods of preservation. They also use organic, locally grown produce in their fermented creations.
Mercola, Joseph M.D. “Learn How to Make Cultured Veggies at Home to Boost Your Immune System.” Jan 1, 2013 – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/01/fermented-…
Nummer, Brian PhD. “Historical Origins of Food Preservation.” National Center for Home Food Preservation -http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/food_pres_hist.html
Sisson, Mark. “The Definitive Guide to Fermented Foods.” Mark’s Daily Apple. -http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fermented-foods-health/#axzz36BATvqcS