Fermented Food

Your world may have looked very different but for this. Between the 16th Century and the 18th Century over 2 million people are estimated to have died for lack of this one food. For example, George Anson set sail in 1740 with 2000 men and came back with only 700. Vasco Da Gama lost most of his crew, and in 1520 Magellan lost 80% of his trying to cross the Pacific. They all died due to scurvy. The sailors would find that their gums would sprout out of their mouth and rot. All this for the lack of fermented food. The problem was solved when Captain Cook introduced Sour Krout (which later became Sauer kraut). Scurvy disappeared, and the age of sailing the vast oceans was truly upon us. Great Empires were born, and fortunes were made. Without, who knows what the world might have been?

The magical element found in Sauer kraut was a bacteria that produced Vitamin C and B. This was produced due to fermentation. Fermentation involves the action of microorganisms or enzymes which cause desired biochemical changes to the food. Cabbage for example. Over long voyages, if you did not consume fermented food, it would result in vitamin deficiencies which led to the dreaded scurvy. Several cultures world over have realised this and eat a wide variety of foods that are fermented. The Chinese and Koreans eat Kimchi, Indian’s eat pickle and yoghurt, the Japanese eat Miso or Tempeh. So should you.

There are a wide variety of fermented foods available today. Kombucha is a fermented black tea which contains a variety of microorganisms. Coconut yoghurt is dairy free and still contains enzymes and probiotics. Made from soybeans, Miso has minerals and good bacteria. In many cultures, we are increasingly relying on enriched food to provide us with these essential Vitamins. My bias is always toward naturally occurring food. It did save the lives of millions of sailors, as it can yours.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.