Sandor, winner of a James Beard Award and New York Times bestselling author, whom Michael Pollan calls the “Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation” is a self-described fermentation revivalist. He is perhaps best known simply as Sandorkraut, which describes his joyful and demystifying approach to making and eating fermented foods, the health benefits of which have helped launch a nutrition-based food revolution.
Sandor begins our conversation by explaining how he got started eating fermented foods. His love affair with fermented foods started with pickles in the family fridge. When he moved from New York City to Tennessee and started a garden, he began experimenting with his own ferments.
Sandor discusses the ways fermented foods can impact our health. “As the role of these bacteria in our physiology is investigated more and more, we are increasingly recognizing that every aspect of our health and wellbeing is related to these bacteria.” These foods have shown the potential to increase immune function, improve digestion and alter our brain chemistry.
All multicellular life depends on bacteria and other microbes. We could not survive without these microorganisms. Sandor explains: “there is a broad consensus in evolutionary biology that all life is descended from bacteria.” The more diverse our microbial ecosystem, the better: “In general, biodiversity enhances our wellbeing and does not threaten it.”
Sandor discusses the difference between commercial store bought ferments versus homemade ferments. One advantage of homemade is that you incorporate your environment into your food, such as the unique bacteria of your garden, kitchen and hands.
If you want to start fermenting foods at home, Sandor recommends starting with fermented vegetables. Fermented veggies are safer than raw veggies, because the lactic acid generated by the bacteria in this process will destroy pathogens.
Fermenting foods at home have given Sandor new appreciation for the unseen world of microbes all around us and inside us. It’s helped him to tune into Nature in a much deeper way.
Regarding the healing power of fermented foods, Sandor says: “I have heard from literally thousands of people that when they began to incorporate these kinds of live fermented foods into their diet their digestive problems that they had suffered from for years and years improved.”
Later in the episode, Sandor talks about the importance of self-care for anyone feeling a little hopeless and powerless. And finally, he shares words of wisdom from his current self to his younger self.
You can learn more about Sandor, fermentation and his books here: https://www.wildfermentation.com/