Friday, September 6, 2013

This Week at the South Durham Farmers' Market

This Week

  • Education: Origami Kid's Craft
  • In Season: okra, squash, radishes, flowers, apples, onions, peppers and pears

My Bacteria and Me

Time and again, Michael Pollan has changed the way I look at food, so when he writes that he’s eating more fermented foods, I pay attention. Fortunately for me, I already happen to love everything pickled, and I have a readily available supply.

Two Chicks Farm brings several lacto-fermented products to market, including kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, pickled turnips, and salsa. These vegetables are fermented through the use of lactobacilli cultures that convert the vegetables’ simple carbohydrates into lactic acid. It is the bacterial culture that Pollan believes may be beneficial to the health of our own body’s microbiome.

Our bodies are home to several hundred different varieties of bacteria. Bacteria cells outnumber our human cells by 10 to 1 making up to five pounds of an adult’s bodyweight. And, scientists are discovering that these bacteria actually carry their own weight through all the beneficial functions they perform for their human hosts.

A diversity of good bacteria aids digestion, reduces inflammation, supports immune system function, and regulates weight gain. The presence of good bacteria may even prevent less savory bacteria from being able to become established in the microbiome.

Unfortunately, most of us have not been very kind to our microbial helpers. Overuse of antibiotics, poor diet and pristine indoor living are all likely culprits in the loss of both good bacteria and number of bacteria.

The American Gut Project is currently sequencing thousands of microbiomes in order to understand how microbes affect our health, and how lifestyle changes can improve the microbiome. They do not have any conclusive findings yet, but Michael Pollan wrote in his New York Times article how these scientists have altered their own diets since starting the project.

Most are eating more unprocessed, high-fiber foods like raw vegetables, nuts, fruits and whole grains, which provide more sustenance to the microbes further along our digestive tracts, and they are adding more fermented foods. The bacterial cultures in fermented foods, like yogurt, beer and Two Chicks Farm’s products can improve the health of your gut bacteria and contain helpful enzymes for digestion.  Plus, fermentation brings out the flavor!

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