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The history of food fermentation

Lactic fermentation is an ancient method used by many peoples throughout the world for preserving vegetables. Even before cultivating vegetables, man fermented wild plants.

Lacto fermented cabbage was already known in China some six thousand years ago and served as a staple food for those who built the Great Wall of China. It is thought the Mongols of Northern China brought it with them and its use spread throughout Europe by migrating tribes. Today the dish known as "sauerkraut" is still the German national dish, but versions of it are prepared in most European countries, from England to Russia. James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it prevented scurvy.

This acquired knowledge was important to the survival of humans as it enabled them to preserve recently harvested foods and save them for the winter months when fresh food was scarce.

Many peoples, in particular the Koreans, the Japanese and the Northern and Central Europeans, have used lactic fermentation as a practical method of preservation, as well as for the particular flavour the process gives to foods.

Kimjang, the tradition of making and sharing of kimchi that usually takes place in late autumn, was added to the list (UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) as "Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea". The practice of Kimjang reaffirms Korean identity and strengthens family cooperation. Kimjang is also an important reminder for many Koreans that human communities need to live in harmony with nature. (Wikipedia®)

With the development of pasteurization and freezing as methods of preservation, this more traditional technique has fallen into disuse in most "developed" countries. As a result, poor gut health in these countries has become widespread.

There are still many common foods that you may be surprised to learn are fermented such as coffee, chocolate, certain teas, olives, sourdough bread, cheese, cultured butter, salami, wine, yogourt, soy, to name but a few.

Today, however, the medical establishment is faced with a new and worrisome phenomenon, as an increasing number of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Alternative solutions are being sought for the prevention and the treatment of infectious diseases.

Raw fermented foods are empirically known as an important factor contributing to health and disease prevention, and researchers throughout the world are now looking into the scientific basis for the therapeutic qualities of fermented foods.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Caldwell Bio Fermentation Canada Inc.

Ste-Edwidge, Québec, Canada J0B 2R0