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We’re lucky to have a wide variety of local produce available to us here in Southwestern Ontario, but we lose some of that variety over the winter. We all know that eating plenty of fruits and veggies is important for maintaining our health. So how can we stay healthy this winter while eating locally? 

For centuries, humans have used fermentation as a means of preserving foods. During fermentation, yeasts and bacteria convert sugars and starches into alcohols and acids, giving fermented foods a sour, tangy taste. Yogurt, kombucha and brine pickles are all examples of naturally fermented foods. Eating these foods contributes beneficial bacteria or probiotics to the body’s microbiome — the collection of microorganisms that occur naturally in the human body.

Entrepreneur Damon Dewsbury is the founder of Culture City, offering a line of naturally fermented foods like tempeh, miso and sauerkraut. Damon grew up on a farm in Southern Ontario and trained as a scientist, studying mycology and microbiology and completing a Masters degree at the University of Toronto. Damon’s fascination with microbes and how they impact human health serve as a constant inspiration for Culture City, which provides Torontonians with a reputable source of nutritious, locally fermented foods. 

 

With so many benefits, it’s easy to share Damon’s enthusiasm for ferments.  Fermentation increases the bioavailability of certain nutrients, making them easier for the body absorb. For example, phytic acid found in some legumes and nuts prevents the body from absorbing certain minerals like iron and zinc. The process of fermentation helps to break down phytic acid, making foods more digestible and nutritious. Furthermore, microbes in the digestive system produce B vitamins and vitamin K. Consuming beneficial bacteria from fermented foods boosts the body’s ability to synthesize these vitamins.

The gut microbiome also plays an important role in immune function. Probiotic-rich foods support the gut mucosa, a barrier in the digestive tract that keeps harmful pathogens at bay.  Eating locally with fermented foods may help to boost the immune system’s ability to fight off colds and infections.

There’s also evidence to suggest that microbes in the gut affect mood. The feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the digestive system. It’s thought that gut microbes  influence mood by interacting with serotonin and neurons that connect the brain to the gut. While researchers are still investigating this process, it’s possible that eating fermented foods may help to combat those winter blues.

Culture City’s ferments are made with all organic, locally sourced ingredients to ensure high quality and nutrition.  With products like turmeric & black pepper mustard, fermented hot sauces and some of Canada’s only soy-free tempeh, Culture City offers plenty of ways to incorporate fermented foods into your diet. Considering adding these foods in daily to help you and your family stay healthy while eating locally this winter. 

To view Culture City’s product line, visit http://culturecity.ca/

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