Fermentation Fair at Pilgrim Church imparts valuable lessons in value-added vegetation

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 16:51.
Meet Sandor Katz,  aka Sandorkraut - Fermentation Guru

Sandor brings the noise

I found the Fermentation Fair recently held at Pilgrim Church, at West 14th and Starkweather, to be an illuminating display of added value to existing produce, created through natural means.   Keynote speaker Sandor Ellix Katz (aka Sandorkraut) spoke freely and openly, in a way that imparted great value, of the varied ways that fermenting produce can happen.  Some of these key points include the following:



  • Cheese, Wine, Condiments (Ketchup), Coffee, Chocolate, Yogurt, Vanilla are all forms of fermentation
  • Fermentation creates strong flavors, the rote necessity to preserve food has driven the process
  • Cheese and Cured Meats are perishable foods outside the historic bubble of fermentation
  • Fermentation makes many foods more nutritious and digestible (fermentation is a form of predigestion)
  • Predigestion via fermentation makes proteins and minerals more accessible to digestive systems
  • A stigma has been placed on fermentation by many because of its bacterial nature - but there are good and bad bacteria
  • Fermentation makes perfect sense to get more nutrients out of their food in third world countries
  • There are amazing therapeutic values to fermented foods (which create potent anti-carcinogenics) for example:

              1.  Miso acts as a magnet to pull heavy metals out of cells

              2.  Natto has been shown in studies to help resolve aneurisms and clotting disorders and prevent Alzheimer's

  • The Oxalic acid found in leafy green vegetables can be neutralized by fermentation
  • Cyanide and other toxins can be removed via fermentation processes
  • One can make non-potable water drinkable by fermenting sugars in water, that create alcohol that kills contaminants
  • Not all fermented foods create live cultures, but the bacterial populations in thes protect us from 'bad bacteria'
  • Fears of botulism with fermentation are completely unfounded - no case has ever been proven in fermenting veggies
  • If there are problem areas in fermentation these are caused by surface molds, but these can almost always been seen
  • Regarding molds, tempeh and bree cheese are both molds, but are -of course fine to eat.  So know your molds :-)
  • Wild fermentation involves processes in which the already-present microrganisms are activated
  • Contrast wild fermentation with Yogurt-creation - which requires heat-elevation (110 degrees) and incubation to occur
  • Mead is a wine made of fermented honey (a substance which is inherently sterile)




Fermentation  essentially deals with microorganisms (typically bacteria) that decompose the base strata (vegetation).

The second portion of the session featured functional workshops in the home-creation of many of these fermented wonders.  Each was accompanied by a take-home recipe sheet for each of these foodstuffs:

MEAD from Honey = an age old libation!

 anceint libation


Tempeh : a yummy, healthy mold


   Saurkraut :  Cabbage to More


  Everything you wanted to know about Kombucha but were afraid to ask!



All in all, these were great workshops, and the recipe sheets were a nice bonus.  The opportunities here are a wonderful blend of organic processes, assistance from microorganisms, health benefit and economic value added enabling entrepreneurial opportunity. The delicious and twice-fermented Kambucha sells at the Food-Coop for 3.99 per 16 oz bottle - can we say financial opportunity for the fermentation - savvy?  Organic entrepreneurial and workforce development opportunities abound - especially for the underprivileged and compromised populations for our region.   These have bioremediation applications for third world nations as well, so let's cultivate local social entrepreneurs through these powerful programs with sliding scale admissions to enable access to the poor as well.  Let's make it happen, Cleveland!

A nice closing remark by Sandor was a simple comment - that the digestive system is a 'major organ of perception'.  I really took much from his talk, and the free and open way he shared some very personal information - he openly disclosed that he has had AIDS for ten years, and no doubt has derived much personal benefit from the wondrous health properties natural fermentation processes deliver. 

I was deeply honored to shake his hand immediately after his discourse and thank him for his astute knowledge of this subject and field.  His vibrancy and passion were self-evident and inspiring.   I'm sure all others in attendance would agree.  He asks that we visit his website, and learn more.  He signed book copies for everyone in attendance who wished one.   Quite an amazing guy, shining health and vibrancy despite a difficult diagnosis.   And such transparent truthtelling - a one in a million.








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MacArthur Genius

  As one astute member of the audience noted, Sandor Katz deserves the MacArthur award for his research and understanding in the fields of human culture, chemistry, biology and medicine.  Great summary Sudhir :)

Thank you...

...for sharing.  I'm sorry I missed this one..  sounds like it was a great session!

Visible Voice

  Desirree, order the book Wild Fermenting through Visible Voice.  I bought a copy from Sandor Katz.  This is a book worth buying...a hearty endorsement from me, since I don't buy a lot of books in my line of work.

I am sorry you missed the lecture and I also wonder if it will be YouTubed anywhere?  Hearing Sandor speak was so worth my time.  I have such a short attention span, yet I was riveted by the Sandor's presentation.  It was as if he was relating the mysteries of life and death.  I found some peace in his presentation. 

I meant to encourage him to leave copies with Visible Voice. You and I have shared our autoimmune health concerns on REALNEO and at the end of Sandor's presentation, he related his ten year survival, despite an AIDS diagnosis. There is an urgent need to change the way we live, if we are to lead lives that have any value at all. 

He signed my book--Fermentation, Fervor, Forever!

Another session..

I wonder if it would be possible to repeat the session... maybe at the Farmer's Market just outside Lucky's?  Heather is a BIG supporter of alternative, organic and/or local foods/farmers..  It would be a great way to spend a sunny weekend afternoon!

I'm glad they have it at Visible Voice!  However, I frequently have Jeff special order me things if they don't carry it.  My Italian Verb Drills work book came in after just a couple days and although I would have been willing to spend a little more to support a local, Tremont mom & pop, it was actually less than the Borders price my classmates shelled out!

My sister and former pilates instructor both followed a very strict diet that consisted of letting vegetables and fruits start to break down before eating them.. one of the basis beliefs is that our evolution has not caught up with advances in refridgeration in the last fifty or so years. 

And not having healthcare insurance and an ever increasing medical expenditure each month.. anything that will improve the situation is a necessity.  And not just financially.. the more I learn about food the more it is clear that all of this processed stuff (even the relatively good stuff) is killing us.  MSG is everywhere, HFCS is awful, and who knew that NutraSweet is dangerous for people with blood sugar issues.. ??

It's hard to keep up with, so I'm going back to basics starting tomorrow when I pick the book up from Visible Voice!


MSG is one of our society's biggest poisons - it does truly nasty things to the body

High Fructose corn syrup is not any better - and both are EVERYwhere