Real Fermented Foods
As you may have gathered, I believe in real food, traditional food. I believe food can heal, food can harm and food can simply make you feel alive. If you stalk my insta, you know, I am obsessed with The Happy Pantry, a local company focused on “raw fermented probiotic amazingness”. And they live and soak in that amazingness everyday.
Fermented foods, in my opinion, are nature’s OG medicine. And really, food fermentation represents one of the oldest known uses of biotechnology!
I have been meaning to start this new segment for my blog “Meet Your Food”, where I can introduce you all to the food and supplement companies I find have a real impact on my life. Because, if there is one thing I have learned from talking to righteous folk like Mr. Mark Stogsdill, owner of Happy Pantry himself, it’s that if you really want to eat real food and FIND them locally, you have to get to know the people who know WAY more than you do in that category. Because they will help you figure out the other real food sources you should be a part of. We were not taught much in nutrition class, if you were even lucky enough to have been provided one, so it’s on you to discover healthy eating, and there are no greater teachers than the people making and sourcing real, traditional, medicinal foods.
These people know the ins and outs of real food, and especially as you’re trying on this lifestyle for size, they can be super, super helpful. So go make friends with your local farmer’s market folks. Go talk to the local grouchy lady in the supplement aisle in the hippy-est store in your town. She knows shit about wellness.
I digress. The point is, today we are talking fermented foods, found locally in San Diego by the super awesome folk of the Happy Pantry.
Happy Pantry: Raw Fermented Probiotic Amazingness
My love for fermented foods really started some two or three years ago when I was introduced to Happy Pantry at the local Farmer’s Market here in San Diego. I had purchased their products on and off, tried to make my own failed batches of beet kvass, kombucha and kraut. Found other products like Bubbies. But, I always found myself going back to the flavor, and truly the efficacy of the Happy Pantry jars of delight. (Beetnik Kraut is my favorite, oh and I hate beets…)
While fermenting your foods at home is extremely beneficial and cost effective, I find playing with bacteria to be difficult, and I simply do not have the time nor wherewithal to figure it out. And as much as I try to make and eat everything at home that I possibly can, I am also a biohacker who outsources creations to those who are much more skilled than I, fermentation happens to be something I outsource. Today, my fridge is stocked with Happy Pantry Beet Kvass, sauerkraut, pickles and spicy carrots. You could say, I am their best customer and biggest fan.
And even though it really does not need to be said, I want you all to know that I am not sponsored or compensated by the awesome folks of Happy Pantry in anyway. I simply appreciate how much their products have helped me in my personal health journey and am looking to share the love.
Enter, Happy Pantry
I always want to know how people fall in love with real food, because deep down, I just want to inspire every person I know to eat real food. I also am super curious to know what drives someone to get in the business of real food. I am so fascinated by Mark of Happy Pantry, he just strikes me as a warm, wonderful, quirky mad scientist. He always answers any question I have on Sundays at the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market, and was so kind to let me check out his kitchen, ahem, laboooor-uuhhhh-tttorrrry. (Anyone? Dexter’s? No? I am the only cartoon nerd…?)
Anyhoot, it turns out Mark found his way to real food and making delicious ferments, like most of us do, simply because he was feeling shitty. He had struggled with digestive issues and stress, and as the economy turned on him (as it did on us all), losing his job selling printers actually gave him the “reinvention” of himself in creating Happy Pantry.
I dare say that falling in love with the power of real food not only saved his health, but maybe his soul. I just cannot see this wonderful loving man selling printers, though, I am sure he was great at it. I would buy anything he told me was good for me… Oh, I totally do… Soooooo…
I had to ask how he feels since turning to a life of real food, filled with lots of raw fermented foods, and he brilliantly replied,
“Oh yeah, my body is humming.”
I love that. THAT is how your body should feel. He knows right away when something is off, or when he needs a dose of his own lethal homemade kefir. (Which I am convinced might be the most potent source of probiotics… and a delight. Another topic for another day…)
Humming. And hums he does around his little kitchen in Carlsbad that seems to be bursting at the seams. His workshop is filled with three other guys who share his appreciation for life and enjoying it in good health. Sure, they are working, but you can feel the joy in their daily grind. I think that is one of the things I love most about meeting people who work in the “real food industry”, they all seem grateful to have discovered the secret to their own health, and truly happiness. I for one am incredibly grateful to have found real food, and to have found the delicious fermented foods from the Happy Pantry.
So, let’s discuss a bit why a person could and should fall for fermented foods.
4 Reasons You Should be Eating Fermented Foods
Gut Health therefore Immune Health
Simply put, fermented foods are good for your gut, and that which is good for your gut is good for your entire immune system. The gut plays a starring role in maintaining the immune system. The intestinal lining functions as the bouncer at the door, deciding what’s allowed to pass through into the bloodstream. The hood rats standing in line hoping to get in range from essential nutrients to dangerous pathogens and toxins.
When the bouncer or the protective lining of the gut is inflamed, the body is more vulnerable to allergies, infections, and yeast overgrowth. Luckily, lactic acid bacteria, have the ability to reduce intestinal permeability, thereby restoring the net and helping to repair leaky guts. They also create pH changes in the GI tract that make it difficult for pathogens to survive. (THIS IS HUGE. HUGE!)
I feel like your gut and immune system should be enough to make or find some delicious fermented foods and include them into your daily meals. I personally believe my daily dose of beet kvass and kombucha, and sauerkraut is simply an insurance plan to stay well and thrive. And, I never get sick. Ever. Ask my hubs who passes back and forth whatever ailment the local preschool is sending home with Wubbas, who just hands it right off to Daddy. Mommy ain’t ever been sick from it. And neither has my newborn. Off my high horse in 3… 2….
Raw cultured vegetables are basically pre-digested, meaning that the bacteria have broken down the naturally occurring sugars in the vegetables, so that you don’t have to. That’s cool. The enzymes in fermented vegetables also assist in digesting foods eaten along with them, particularly grains, legumes, and meat. This does not mean you should shower in whatever you want and just make sure to chase it with sauerkraut, but really as I typed this out, it could in essence help if you did… So… shots shots shots shots shots shots shots of KIMCHI!
Fermented foods have been shown to improve the quantity, availability and digestibility of many dietary nutrients. The fermentation process makes nutrients more bio-available, meaning the body knows how to use the nutrients, and does so efficiently. For instance, the amount of Vitamin C in sauerkraut is significantly higher than in the same size serving of fresh cabbage. This is because the Vitamin C in fresh cabbage is woven into the fibrous plant walls, and has not been pre-digested by bacteria. I find this personally to be mind blowing. This is also why you should eat fermented grains, breads and legumes, so that you can digest them and enjoy added nutrients! (I know, I am SUCH a nerd.)
Yeast and pathogenic bacteria feed off sugar. Read that again. Sugar = feeding bad shit in your body. The more sugar you ingest, the more comfy you’re making your insides for harmful microbes. And the more sugar you eat, the more “bad” bacteria you have…which makes you crave more SUGAR. The reverse, however, is also true, meaning the fewer of these “bad” bacteria you have, the less you crave sugar. So stock the eff up on good bacteria my friend.
Life Finds a Way
As Mark geekily referenced a Jurassic Park quote in describing why he is so fascinated with fermented foods and the microbial universe, “Life Find’s a Way.”
Bacteria, good and bad, minuscule bacteria can make or break a system, and it is incredibly resilient. It was not even until the last decade that we realized 90% of the cells in the human body are microbial. Meaning that we are, in essence, more bacterial than anything else. Crazy, right? One should then assume that our intestinal flora have a hugeeee impact on overall health. Much greater than the medical community initially presumed, and most have yet to truly realize its impact.
So I for one am thankful for people like Mark who are now on a mission to share his learning through loving and delicious foods. Do yourself a favor and find a way to get fermented probiotic amazingness in your system every single day. If you make no other changes in your life, let that be a simple and needed one. And if you live locally in San Diego, do yourself an even bigger favor and go meet my friends at the Happy Pantry. I for one am packing up the boys and heading to the Hillcrest Farmers Market to get my weekly dose now.
Thanks for what you do, Mark. Sure makes me happy, happy, happy!
x to the ohhh