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Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Sandor Ellis Katz at Cornell

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  November 6, 2013

Sandor Ellis Katz

Cornell University

April 2, 2012

I finally slowed down to listen to Sandor Ellis Katz–WILD FERMENTATION–at Cornell Univerity.  The U-tube video is 90 minutes.  So, grab some handwork, settle in, and enjoy an interesting, thought provoking lecture that discusses, in part, how the standardization of food has drastically altered our ability to enjoy the full power inherent in heritage foods–even when so-called “heritage” foods are made and sold–something Katz thinks is false advertising.

Such changes have altered the “culture” in every sense of that word–the way we live, the cultures we use in foods (yogurt, kombucha, breads, beers, etc.)

So, do you ever try to make yogurt?  And have you noticed that you get really good yogurt for a few generations, and then you…don’t?

Well, the reason is that a culture is a community of many different organisms–thirty or more– that work together to keep the culture stable.  But this kind of community is very hard to standardize–so industry only uses part of the community–which means that what is being advertised is not really the genuine thing.  For instance, the dried powder we buy to start a yogurt culture does not contain the full community of organisms.  And, commercial kombucha only uses part of the SCOBY colony to make its product.  (A SCOBY is a symbiotic community of bacteria and yeasts.)  The same is true of yogurt, cheeses, breads, beer, and so forth.

Cultures for yogurt, kefir (pronounced ke-fear, I’ve learned), kombucha and so forth used to be passed down in families and communities–and they retained their full components in the process.  What we have now is NOT the full biodiversity of a heritage culture.  So the loss, the reduction, is enormous–and is a loss of the culture (the social grouping) as well.

The yogurt culture one can buy can only sustain itself for a few generations–because it isn’t complete.  Standardization killed it.  Food safety laws have limited it.

So, Katz’s main message is that we need to reclaim our food as mass production has been an abject failure in that this food lacks…cultures…and has changed our culture in unhealthy ways.  Shifting how we eat begins to reclaim our culture–so that we once again nourish our bodies and regain our health.

Take some time for yourself to understand what has gone wrong, what the limits of industrialization are, what you can do.

And, maybe try to locate a heritage culture for yogurt and/or kefir.

And, make some lacto-fermented foods for yourself.  They are so delicious!

Here is Katz’s video on how to make a sauerkraut–which bear no similarity to that limp stuff you get in a can:

Written by louisaenright

November 6, 2013 at 11:29 am