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Getting the most from your food
Lacto-fermenting is a pro-biotic super highway

Lacto-fermenting can be done with a variety of foods. -Photo: Serendigity

By Tami Stevenson

Lacto-fermentation is one of the safest and healthiest methods of food preservation known to man - and one of the oldest. The end product is living food that has more nutrients than what you started with and the process is easier than canning. One simply needs to store it in the fridge or in a cool place when it is finished, and it will keep for months - one of the uses for root cellars years ago.

What is fermentation? The best well-known example of fermentation is beer and wine. Scientific studies have proven, through studies in the above mentioned popular beverages and other studies on lacto-fermentation, that the benefits of the process (not counting and without the alcohol) aid in digestion and have many other health advantages and will talk about as much of this “lost knowledge” as space allows in this article.

The word “lacto” is simply a shortened version of the ever popular good bacteria called Lactobacillus, the beloved pro-biotic everyone wants and the human body needs more of. Lactobacillus bacteria have the ability to convert sugars into lactic acid which is an important fuel and germ-fighter for the body.

At one point lactic acid was thought to cause fatigue in the muscles after exercising and was not good good for much of anything. On the contrary, studies by George A. Brooks, Professor of Integrative Biology at Berkeley University, in the late 1970’s, and other more recent studies, show lactic acid actually helps delay the onset of fatigue and is an important “fuel” used by the muscle tissue and the rest of the human body. Lactic acid is also a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria. That is why lacto-fermentation is one of the safest methods of food preservation when executed properly.

Local resident Ellen Meyers holds a science degree in nursing and looks for the science in everything. She has a mission - to educate people on the benefits of healthy food and proper food preservation. Meyers gave a presentation recently at the Suwannee River Regional Library in Live Oak to a packed room of people starving for more education on this very popular subject.

“Is there anyone in the room who has never had antibiotics?” She asked. No one raised their hand. “Because if you haven’t, you are a miracle. Everybody has had antibiotics.” She continued, “One course of antibiotics will wipe out 95 percent of your gut flora. These are the good bugs (pro-biotics) that are in your intestines.” Well documented studies also showed that anti-biotics greatly reduce the ability to remove heavy metals and causes the regrowth of bad bacteria and yeast in the human body.

Lacto-fermented foods are what this writer calls the pro-biotic super highway to replacing and maintaining the good bacteria lost from medications and eating processed foods. Meyers added, “When I say bugs, I mean microscopic bacteria, not like what many people think when they hear the word ‘bug.’”

According to, a natural fermentation website, various strains of these good bacteria are present on the surface of all plants, especially those growing close to the ground. They are also common to the gastrointestinal tract as well as other areas of the human body and found in animals. Beyond preservation advantages, lacto-fermentation also increases and preserves vitamin and enzyme levels, as well as digestibility of the fermented food. Many fruits and vegetables are not meant to be digested raw and fermentation is the best way to get the most from your food, but that is another story.

Although there are cultures one can purchase online to hasten the lacto-fermenting processes with many recipes, all one really needs is natural salt with no additives, a large enough container with a lid and water to cover. However, Meyers prefers to use natural whey made from raw cows milk in combination with salt. She showed everyone how to make lacto-fermented German Sauerkraut the old-fashioned way by chopping and pounding the cabbage to release the natural juices, filling the jar to about an inch from the top with the pounded cabbage, adding salt and covering it with water (if you don’t add whey or another culture with the salt, the process will take a little longer, but salt is really all you have to have to make the process work). The water must cover the product at all times. Leave out at room temperature for approximately three to five days before transferring to cold storage, once cold - then it must be kept cold. If the water gets absorbed by the vegetables, add more to ensure everything is covered; you may even add a little more salt, if needed. This process is much easier than canning. The food is living and the pro-biotics created from the fermentation process actually protect the food (and you) against bad bacteria. These are general guidelines and not meant to be used as recipes. Consult a verified source for actual amounts, cultures and recipes. Helpful information is listed at the end of this article.

She stressed the importance of consuming organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) foods. Today, corn, for instance, is all GMO (and just about EVERYTHING is irradiated), unless bought from an organic source. If, for instance, the beef, chicken and pork we consume are all fed genetically modified corn and other grains, where does that wind up? Meyers presented slides about GMO foods. They are carcinogenic and contain glyphosate, which is toxic. Glyphosate disrupts the gut metabolism of sulfur (which feeds healthy bacteria) and allows pathogenic or bad bacteria to proliferate.

After the presentation, people came forward to check out the samples of lacto_fermented products. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Meyers explained that glyphosate is an immune disrupter. What do you get from your immune system being disrupted? Diabetes, and other auto-immune diseases like Lupus, Graves disease, etc. She said this is all well documented but big pesticide and pharmaceutical companies are spending a fortune trying to disprove things like this. “I have a science degree in nursing, okay, and I look for the science. It is very well documented. But when they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars in trying to defeat it, it is kind of hard to win. The money wins many times, but people are getting more educated about this kind of thing and pretty soon, the truth will not be able to be stopped.”

She said, “You vote three times a day by what you eat and what you buy at your grocery stores.” If we stop buying their products, hopefully, they will eventually soak their millions into things that are beneficial. Grocery stores are catching on. Offering more organic foods to shoppers almost daily, it seems. She stressed the importance of reading labels. “If more people buy organic, we will continue to see more organic foods available in our grocery stores.” The Weston A. Price Foundation is a great source for anyone wanting to know more about these and other harmful foods like corn syrup solids and others too numerous to mention in this article.

Currently raw cows milk can only be sold as pet food, because the government says it is a health risk. Although many well documented studies have been performed by many qualified physicians and scientists such as Doctor Ted Beals, a board certified pathologist from the University of Michigan Medical School and the Weston A. Price Foundation, to name a couple, show the tremendous benefits of consuming raw milk and show studies where the risks are actually very minimal showing graphs and charts comparing it to pasteurized and homogenized milk on their websites, which are listed at the end of this article. They say raw milk is not the horrific health hazard the government would have everyone believe. Doctor Beals said he has more of a risk of getting hit by a car on his way to his farm to get the raw milk than he does contracting an illness from consuming raw milk. Commercial milk will sour if left out uncovered but raw milk will ripen (ferment). Which is where your cheeses and whey come from.

Meyers also talked about saturated fats, which is another story in itself, “There is no evidence that saturated fats cause heart disease, that was proven years ago but they demonized the butters and lards right along with the the liquid oils.”

When we eat canned or processed food, we are eating, basically, dead food with minimal nutrients. The nutrients the processing companies fortify these foods with oftentimes are not easily processed by our bodies. Our organs wind up starving for the right nutrients. That feeling of still being hungry after a meal may be real, even though the belly is full they are not satisfied. The organs are still hungry because they haven’t been given any food they can assimilate or digest into something they can use to convert to energy. So energy levels are low, thought processes are cloudy and diseases like cancer become commonplace. There is a saying, “Americans are the most overfed and under nourished people in the world.” Convenience comes with a price. Buying organic and non-GMO is more expensive, but do consumers want to spend more money on food or medicine?

Library representative Susan Martin said these subjects are so popular they are in their third year doing whole series on pioneer skills and back to the basics presentations; 2018 is totally booked for them.

Photo: Ellen Meyers holding books: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price and Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook by Sally Fallon Morell. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

The following information and books recommended by Meyers should be available soon at the Library and are available for purchase at Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook by Sally Fallon Morell, The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price, website: Doctor Ted Beals: