Where are you From? Preserving Culture through Food

Where are you from, were you born here? This is a question I often ask my customers at market. Sometimes they are 2nd or 3rd generation NZers, so I ask them about their parents, where were they from? Do you have any food traditions in your family that you still are practising today? Language and food are two ways in which culture and tradition are kept alive, and traditional food preparation, in particular, is invaluable to a healthy lifestyle. Fermented foods have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. Although they were likely produced initially as a means of preservation, it would have been readily apparent that these foods possessed other desirable attributes. Compared to the raw ingredients from which they are made, fermented foods have unique flavors, textures, appearances, and functionalities. Even many centuries ago, well before the advent of nutrition science, fermented foods would have been intentionally produced as a stable source of vitamins, minerals, calories, and other nutrients (Steinkraus, 1994).

Dr Weston A Price was a dentist who travelled the world in the 1930's and published a book 'Nutritional and Physical Degeneration.' In this book he described the superior disposition, tooth and bone structure, and reproductive health of people around the world who were still following their traditional diets. Dr Price documented his findings in beautiful black and white photos. He also documented the sharp decline in dental health and bone structure where that traditional diet had been abandoned and a more western diet adopted. Dr Price identified 11 characteristics of traditional diets that he believed were vital for a healthy and productive life. Fermented Foods are an ancient way of preserving food and are found in every culture in the world, the innate wisdom of our ancestors. Remarkably, the discovery that fermentation enhances food preservation, quality, and functionality occurred independently on every continent and nearly at the same time in human history.

Fermented foods have been consumed by humans for thousands of years. Although they were likely produced initially as a means of preservation, it would have been readily apparent that these foods possessed other desirable attributes. Compared to the raw ingredients from which they are made, fermented foods have unique flavors, textures, appearances, and functionalities. Even many centuries ago, well before the advent of nutrition science, fermented foods would have been intentionally produced as a stable source of vitamins, minerals, calories, and other nutrients (Steinkraus, 1994).

 


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