We can’t live without bacteria. Nor would we want to—bacteria help flavor and preserve some of our favorite foods. My guest, fermentation activist Sandor Ellix Katz, explains why we humans should rethink our relationship with these tiny creatures who actually run the place.
Sandor Ellix Katz is the award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of two great books, Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation. He’s a really smart, fun guy on a mission—to reconnect people with their food. (Thanks to his books, my cellar shelves hold jars of homemade sauerkraut, pickled beets, pickled green tomatoes…)
Sandor and I talk about the history and deliciousness of fermented food, and how safe home-fermenting is. We totally diss that modern Western notion that bacteria are our enemies and that 99.99% of them must be vanquished by sprays or wipes or soaps.
“Bacteria are the matrix of all life,” says Sandor. He explains some of their many skills—they can transform themselves, unlock the nutrients in our food, improve our health, our mood, and our menus.
They also set a good example. They outnumber our cells by orders of magnitude–even in our “own” bodies. They teach us how that whole rugged American go-it-alone thing isn’t possible or desirable.
Sandor gives fermenting classes around the world. Check his website for his schedule. You can also buy his books there. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Update! Sandor’s returning to Vermont! Sterling College, a small, environmentally focused school in Craftsbury, VT hosts the School of the New American Farmstead in the spring and summer. Craftsbury’s a sweet little town surrounded by mountains, lakes, forests, and farms. Also scheduled is a multi-day class with mushroom researcher Tradd Cotter—see my interview with him on the Big Chew, Episode 4. Vermont is so fantastic in summer. And Tradd and Sandor are incredibly smart, engaging, funny–and definitely hands-on! Check out Sterling’s School of the New American Farmstead.
Music in this episode is “Rose” by From Bacteria to Boys, live on the WFMU Scott McDowell Show, used by a Creative Commons license.