LocalHarvest Newsletter, June 26, 2012

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

I have experimentation on the mind. Sandor Katz's long awaited The Art of Fermentation was published last month, and it is nothing if not an irresistible invitation to play with food. Katz, whose previous books include Wild Fermentation and one of my all-time favorite food books, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, has offered food lovers a real gift with this new book. It is comprehensive, well-researched, entertaining, appropriately cautionary, and immediately inspiring.

My copy is already well marked, and my summer list now includes "make ginger beer, start a sourdough, and get kefir grains (?)". The question mark on the last item was due to Katz's full disclosure that kefir is more like a pet than a project: ongoing attention is required. I would have said that I already have enough creatures to take care of, but then I read that kefir grains, used to ferment milk, are not a grain at all, nor even a single entity. Kefir grains are made of dozens of species of yeast and bacteria, most of which aren't even named, but all of which reproduce together in such a way as to create the curd pictured above. Fascinating, huh? In feeding our innate curiosity, The Art of Fermentation is bound to lead to many a home fermentation project, and more than a few new "pets".

We at LocalHarvest are big on food preservation, but personally, I have typically stuck with canning and freezing, both of which require electricity. Sandor Katz reminds us that fermentation was the original way of preserving foods, in forms like yogurt, sauerkraut and salami (and atole agrio, kishk, natto and pru). By making and eating traditional foods we connect with the past, and with a less energy consumptive future.

In so doing, we may also deepen our bond with our food. If we educate ourselves about how to safely engage with the microbial world, that knowledge will give us the confidence to experiment. As Katz writes, "Make sure you understand the parameters of the selective environment you need to create, and you are not playing Russian roulette. Basic information and awareness are important. Empowered with them, you may ferment without fear." Well-informed fearlessness is powerful, powerful enough to transform us from consumers to producers. Even if it's only our own yogurt that we are producing, our relationship to the world changes.

Curious? Then this will be good news: our friends at Chelsea Green Publishing are offering five copies of The Art of Fermentation to LocalHarvest readers. If you would like to enter the giveaway, you can do so here; we'll pick the winners at random at 5:00 Pacific on Friday, July 6. Can't wait? You can purchase a copy from Chelsea Green. Want to see Sandor Katz in action? Here is one of his full 90 minute fermentation workshops.

As always, we love to hear from you. Have a fermentation story to share? Tell us here!

And as always, take good care and eat well.

Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Still thinking of poking a few seeds into the soil this summer? It's not too late and you won't regret it. We have hundreds of varieties here.

If your appetite for fresh veggies far outstretches the soil, sun, or time at your disposal, you might want to join a CSA. You can find those in our national directory.

Many people enjoy a little meat aside their vegetables, especially when in grilling weather. If you're looking for high quality meat direct from a family farmer, look no further.


CSAware makes CSA management a whole lot easier. Love to try it, but think your shareholders will object? One of our farms recently polled its members about the online ordering experience with CSAware: 96% of their respondents said they had a good experience!

If you'd like an online tour, let us know.

Food From the Farm: Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut is a surprisingly straightforward process. The how-tos are discussed at length in The Art of Fermentation, but you can also learn the basics online.