PERMACULTURE AND HEALTH: BODY IMMUNITY, TASTINESS AND PRESERVATION FROM FERMENTED VEGETABLES
In the human context, fermentations is the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce. But it is important to recognize that fermentation is a natural phenomenon much broader than human culinary practices. Actually, cells in our bodies are capable of fermentation. Fermenting is a really old and wise way of preserving food through anaerobic processes of fermentation by lactic acid bacterias. Many cultural traditions have always used fermentation as a food preservation and a source of probiotics. Fermentation phenomena vary dramatically between the extreme of tropical heat and arctic cold. In cold climates fermentation is absolutely essential for survival, where summers becomes the time for hunting and harvesting the food will be eaten in winter when the climate will not allow these activities, and after months of fermentation process. In tropical climates fermentation is driven by the heat that produces the microbial transformations. In these cases fermentation becomes a strategy used to avoid the quick food decomposition.
FERMENTED FOOD AND HEALTH
Pickles, and the whole fermented food group, are highly nutritious and digestible, making nutrients more bioavailable and generating, many times, additional nutrients or removing anti-nutrients or toxins. They’re a perfect source of probiotics (friendly live micro-organisms which are used to displace the harmful ones) and can be found in Lactobacillus. Its great ability of controlling over pathogenic microorganisms and toxins helps our body detoxes. As already mentioned, both processes, increasing nutrients and decreasing anti-nutrients, are developed during this lactic acid fermentation. By one hand it produces important antioxidants and nutrients, such as folates, which are important for fetal development and blood cell production. and a big amount of Vitamin C. By the other hand the anti-nutrients, such a phytates, responsible for the decrease of digestibility potential of our body, are degraded by this fermentation process. Both processes help our body stimulating bile production, contributing to the digestive health and body immunity.
So, broadly speaking, what we could consider to be primary health benefits are:
1. Pre-digestion: The organic compound are metabolized into more elemental forms. Minerals become bioavailable and certain difficult-to-digest compounds are broken down.
2. Nutritional Enhancement: In the process of pre-digestion many ferments accumulate increased levels of B vitamins as compared with the raw ingredients prior to fermentation, as well as other unique micro nutrients produced by the fermenting organisms.
3. Detoxification: Fermentation can remove variety of toxics compound from foods, in some cases transforming anti nutrients into nutrients.
4. Live Bacterials Cultures: In the cases of lactic acid bacteria consumed without cooking (the case of pickles is a perfect example) the live bacteria community themselves confer functional benefits. We could say that is the most healing aspect of lactic acid ferments. Living lactic acid bacterial has always been present in foods , ave increased in their dietary importance because of the multitude of chemicals present in out lives, some of them are valued specifically for their ability to kill a broad spectrum of bacteria, such as antibiotics drugs. After a round of antibiotics, researchers have found that “there are still persistent long terms impacts on the human intestinal microbiota that remain for up to 2 years post-treatment”. Compound that with the growing levels of antibiotics present in the water supplies, along with chlorine as well as the antibacterial cleansing products. The well being of our microbial ecology requires regular replenishment and diversification now more than ever.
By eating pickles and other fermented food we can stimulate our metabolism, which supplies your cells with new energy, helping to prevent the constipation and the swelling or bloating of the abdomen. Energetically speaking, pickles also helps favoring the body activation, the concentration and reduces sleepiness.
All the positive effects and probiotics benefits found in the yogurt and other (animal) milk products, such a lactobacillus and bifidus, as a result of fermentation, can be found in this vegetable fermentation process. Animal suffering-free and multiple taste from a lot of vegetable combinations are two good qualities. Casein (animal protein) and lactose free as well, none of them beneficial to the health at all.
FERMENTING IN PERMACULTURE
Fermentation is one of the main food preservation strategies, and we will find the relation with the permaculture in the concept of energy. As the second Holmgren’s permaculture principle talks about catching and storing energy, and food is the most important human energy resource, it’s easy to see how pickles and other fermented food can be incorporated within the permaculture system. As said before, fermenting has been one of the most important process in some cultures in order to survive and, even when fermenting is not an imperative in other cultures, it’s always been present in many of them, becoming an efficient part of the living process.
Sustainability and energy are two concepts strongly and directly connected. The mere fact of eating in the western world nowadays means an incredible amount of world energy use. The food industry spends much more energy than we think, and that is making our lifestyle everyday less sustainable. We need to be aware of what all the embed energy is contained in every step of the food process before it arrives to our mouths. Harvesting, manufacture, transporting, selling, and preserving are just a few of them. Refrigerating a really big source of high energy consumption absolutely common in our society, but it could even become unnecessary in case we’d decide to start eating fermented food. Here we have the example of how fermented food does help reduce the energy consumption. We have the case of soy beans which while cooking them it will take about 6 hours, making a soy fermentation (tempeh) in total won’t be more than 1 hour and half after the whole cooking process (and furthermore fermented soy beans will be healthier and much more digestible!). We can easily see how the amount of energy spent in each process are far to be the same. And this is just an example aplicable to any kind of vegetable, fish or meat. If we don’t feel ready to live without our beloved refrigerator, let’s save at least some cooking energy! And of course, let’s eat healthy getting immune from our food, and delicious! Let’s eat PICKLED VEGETABLES!