Can Probiotics Really Help Your Health?
To hear Sandor Katz tell it, our world would be a very different place without fermented food. It’s not merely that we wouldn’t have much of the fare we cherish most: wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, to name but a few.
Indeed, says Katz, without fermentation and the preservative qualities it imparts, we’d never have built cities, or cars, or iPads, because we’d never have evolved from our hunter-gatherer status. “We could not have developed agricultural societies without the fermenting techniques that allowed us to store food,” says Katz, a tall man of 47, with an unruly mop of hair and thick muttonchops that connect to an equally vigorous mustache.
Fermentation is a process whereby carbohydrates in a food or beverage break down to form alcohol—in the case of wine and beer—or lactic acid, which preserves foods. (In the latter scenario, also called lacto-fermentation, “good” bacteria, or probiotics, drive the transformation.)