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Naturally Fermented Foods

Greek Yogurt with Honey Thyme Walnut CrumbleIf you’re like me, you pay attention to food trends, like growth in the popularity and availability of naturally fermented foods. I’m talking about live cultured foods — naturally fermented the way our ancestors have done it for centuries. For them, it was a method of preservation. It was also a secret to good health, and it’s making a serious comeback. 

For millennia, traditional cultures around the world have made their own naturally fermented sodas and ale, as well as fermented dairy products, vegetables, fruits and even meats. Japanese cuisine features fermented pickles, natto and miso. In Germany, sauerkraut is a traditional dish. In other parts of Europe, sourdough bread is made from naturally fermented dough. In Korea, people eat kimchi made from live cultured cabbage.

A strong immune system depends on a healthy digestive tract. If digestive health is not up to par, chances are neither is the immune system. Healthy bacteria are key! That’s where fermented foods come in. They contain probiotics — friendly bacteria that colonize our digestive track, keeping our bacterial flora balanced.   

Because of our culture’s reliance on pasteurized foods, we’ve eliminated most sources of these important probiotics that we used to consume on a regular basis. To make sure your diet contains these valuable live foods, consider adding the following:

  • Live cultured pickles, sauerkraut, vegetables and kimchi (you’ll find these in the refrigerated case)
  • Cheese made from raw milk
  • Unpasteurized miso (which has not been heated)
  • Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans
  • Fermented drinks and tea such as kombucha
  • Yogurt and kefir made with live cultures (not all commercially sold yogurt or frozen yogurt contains live cultures). Non-dairy yogurt varieties may also contain live cultures.
  • Probiotic supplements – we’ve got a large selection in our Whole Body Department

Look for “live food” or “contains live cultures” on the label of many of these products. Eat a variety. Remember: Different foods contain different strains of healthy bacteria. Start slow and work your way up gradually to what feels right for your body. Generally speaking, ¼ to ½ cup daily or several times a week works well for most people, but everyone is different.  If you have digestive problems, be sure to check with your health care provider. 

My idea of a probiotic-friendly lunch is a sandwich made with raw milk cheese, tomato and live pickle slices, German-style mustard or honey mustard, and quality mayonnaise on dark rye bread. Delicious with a fresh green salad and probiotic dressing I make with olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, a little raw honey, a little unpasteurized miso and a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano made from raw milk.   

Do you enjoy fermented foods? What’s your favorite? Let me know.

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90 comments

Comments

Jessica says …

What department of Whole Foods would I find natto? Thanks

susie says …

Does whole foods lafayette ca sell unpasturized organic sauerkraut? what brands?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@JESSICA - Our exact locations and products can differ between stores. I would suggest reaching out to your local store to find out.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SUSIE - Since our exact product options differ, I would suggest calling the Lafayette store directly at 925.284.5305 to find out.

susie says …

What unpasturized sauerkraut is available at the Lafayette CA store?

Scott Rubel says …

I'm surprised to see these comments here, representing a store that does not carry raw milk or kefir as far as I can tell.

angelo says …

Couldn't find fermented pickles at Whole Foods/Willowbrook,Ill.....not sure why....dairy buyer supposed to call me soon.

Annette Bishop says …

Looking for the sauerkraut that was advertised on the news

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ANNETTE - Our exact product options differ between stores. Check with your local store based on the exact product name. They will be happy to help!

Leha says …

i live in Houson,Tx. Would like to know which Whole Food store in Houston sell organic non gmo natto? Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LEHA - Our exact product options will differ between stores. Check with the exact store you plan to shop with in Houston to see if they carry this!

Mary Stonebraker says …

Where can I buy Kraut juice in the city of Memphis Tn or surrounding areas?

Barbie says …

Is Whole Foods brand of Sauerkraut-- made w/organic cabbage, sea salt & LACTIC ACID-- a naturally fermented product-- as good as Bubbies? I bought the Whole Foods brand because it is cheaper. Then I realized that since 1) it is not refrigerated 2) has added lactic acid (a result of fermentation-- right?) that it might not be made 'naturally' and thusly NOT have the resulting probiotics as it would if naturally fermented. So: my question-- #1) is the WF have naturally occuring probiotics in it like a brand like Bubbies? and #2) why the lactic acid added (preservative?) THANKS!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARY - Since our products differ, I would suggest giving the Poplar store a call at 901.969.4368 to find out exactly what they have in stock.

Charles Messier says …

You sell Momma O's Kimchi in New York. How can I get it in Winter Park, Fl? Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CHARLES - It does not appear that they offer their products in Florida yet but you can purchase their kimchi on their website at http://www.kimchirules.com/collections/kimchi.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BARBIE - It does have probiotics. It is also pasteurized and the lactic acid is added as a preservative and also to assist the fermentation.

Daniel says …

Does whole foods carry or make a brand of fermented sauerkraut that I can use for probiotic support? I don't want to make it.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DANIEL - Our exact product options will differ between stores but most locations should carry an option. Check with your local store directly to see what they have in stock!

steve says …

do you guys sell starter cultures for fermenting vegetables? thanks!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@STEVE - Our options will differ. Check with your local store to see if they have this in stock!

Ellena Lucas says …

Does Whole Foods sell raw organic fermented sauerkraut? If so, where shall I look for it in the store?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ELLENA - Our product options will differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see if they carry this type of sauerkraut. Typically you will find it refrigerated in either the specialty or dairy area.

Drea says …

Do you sell stater couture. If not, do you know who does? Thanks.

susie says …

never been to wholefood going Monday looking for the name of the best Live fermented pickles they tell me wholefood brands has lactic asicd added is this true, how is the Bubies compared. and do you sell fermented sourdough breads? thanks Susie

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DREA - Our product selection will vary between stores. Check with your local store directly to see if they have this in stock.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SUSIE - Product selections will differ between stores. Check with your local store directly to see what they have in stock, they will be happy to help!

Shelly easton says …

what products are sold at whole foods that cantain the live culture besides the supplaments, i would like to start adding these to my diet!

Carla Thornburg says …

Does your Fresno store have any ready made fermented mustard?

max says …

I have been looking and asked about Natto at my local WF ( Fresno ) , nobody seem to know what it is . Will you carry sometime soon ?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CARLA & @MAX - I would suggest checking with the Fresno directly at 559.241.0300 to help!

Denise Scott says …

Wholefoods should start carrying organic fermented soybeans. Not easy to find at local markets.

Mitchel Freedman says …

Does all sourdough bread sold at Whole Foods stores contain Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis?

Lori says …

My all time favorite is Lifeway Low Fat Kefir. It provides 12 live and active probiotic cultures and lends itself to everything from smoothies to salad dressings. I've recently tried swirling it, just prior to serving, into pureed vegetable soups for an added creamy texture and protein boost. DELICIOUS! Lifeway is a headquartered locally here in Chicago (technically, they're in Morton Grove, a Chicago suburb) so I get the added bonus of supporting a local business who, in turn, lists support of local dairies a part of it's corporate mission. Talk about a win/win. My second favorite, a recent discovery, is Bubbie's Sauerkraut. I never thought I'd like sauerkraut because I only knew the warm, smelly, slightly slimy sauerkraut they served at the school cafeteria when I was in grammar school. But Bubbie's is a revelation! Refrigerated, it comes out of the jar full of crunch and delicately flavored, not overpowering as in the days of old. I love this stuff! It goes on sandwiches, burgers, salads and so much more. This morning I topped my grilled yam steaks (two thick slices of organic yams) with Bubbie's and washed it down with lemon water. Tasty and Invigorating. In closing, the answer for anyone who wants to know, is yes, I buy my Lifeway Kefir and Bubbie's Sauerkraut at my local Whole Foods. You guys rock! - PEACE -

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MITCHEL - Our exact brands will differ between stores. Check with your local store to see what options they have in stock.

Kathy says …

Do you carry Japanese Natto?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KATHY - Options will differ between stores, check with your local store to find out if they have this in stock.

Alyce Norris says …

Do you sell raw sauerkraut? What size container? Cost?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ALYCE - Our exact options will vary between stores so check with your local store for details!

Ted says …

I am interested in organic natto

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