The Role of Cultured Foods in a Sustainable Food System: Health & Energy Savings

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Previously in This Series:

So many of the wonderful properties of cultured foods are interrelated. The lactic acid in them has been found by modern day science to have many benefits, but that is also what preserves the kraut, which saves you the energy output needed for canning or freezing the cabbage instead.

And so, I thought I’d wrap this series up by discussing two more of the benefits cultured foods can bring to any food system – health and energy savings. Let me start by asking you this: what is it like to live without refrigeration and all of the other conveniences that electricity has brought to the kitchen? And what would make such a feat possible?

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If living without a monthly energy bill appeals to you, then so will understanding how life was lived without refrigerators and large ranges and a constant supply of groceries from a supermarket. Cultured foods filled all of the gaps that exist without these things.

Refrigeration is an incredibly convenient thing, but it doesn’t keep food forever nor is it necessary to store various types of preserved foods. Supermarkets provide us with plenty of fresh foods – full of enzymes and probiotics – but it isn’t the only source, or the best. And the energy output of the modern electric range and the freezer allow us to can and freeze food as needed for preservation, but these are very modern forms of food preservation that require a lot of energy.

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In fact, the culturing of foods not only preserves them so that you do not require refrigeration, but it does so in a way that adds the probiotics and enzymes needed instead of killing them. Furthermore, vitamins are increased through fermentation, enzymes are added, and foods that can be difficult to digest are actually pre-digested by the cultures themselves. And all of this can be done without the need for canning or freezing.

So, as food is brought in from a more sustainable agricultural system, it can then be used in a more sustainable way. Through cultured foods we can prepare and share food that requires little energy input with maximum nourishment output.

All it takes is a shift in the way we see things in the kitchen – from the convenient and pasteurized to the nourishing and cultured.

Shannon

Shannon is a mama to three small children, homesteader, freelance writer, and picture-taker. She lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead where they make and eat kefir, kombucha, sourdough, and fermented vegetables.

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