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Festival Celebrates Fermented Food And Drinks

February 8, 2018 1:29 p.m.

Festival Celebrates Fermented Food And Drinks

GUEST:

Rob Knight, UC San Diego professor and co-founder of the American Gut Project

Austin Durant, founder, Fermentation Festival

Related Story: Festival Celebrates Fermented Food And Drinks

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>>> If you like sour grout -- sauerkraut you like fermented food. Research shows fermented food might be very good for you. Fermented food fans, there is a fan club are throwing a party as they gather for the fermentation Festival. Let me welcome my guest on the subject, Austin Charette, the organizer of the fourth annual fermentation Festival. He also founded the festival. Thank you for coming in.
>> Thank you. Nice to be here.
>> Vini -- joining us via Skype is Rob at night. He is cofounder of the American got Project. He studies how our health is impacted and he is the festival keynote speaker. Thank you for being a -- with us.
>> Fermentation is a method to preserve food. What is behind a growing interest in fermented food quick
>> I think people just want to understand where their food comes from and they are getting closer to the farmers and those who grow the food. Fermentation is a whale -- age-old way to preserve it. People want to be closer to the food source.
>> I was going to ask you for some examples of for vented foods and drinks. Sitting right here in front of me, I think, is a jar of sauerkraut.
>> It is.
>> This is hard to see for radio listeners. It is a Salvatori InStyle sauerkraut. We chop of vegetables, add salt to let the microbes in and let it ferment from one to eight weeks. Then you refrigerated and it is full of vitamins and probiotics and it is really good for us.
>> Give us other examples.
>> We have kimchee, a Korean version of vegetables. Yogurt, soy sauce, vinegar, beer and wine are of course fermented. Cheeses, cured meats.
>> If you had to explain to an average person what fermentation is and what it does to food, how would you describe that? I go it is a way to transform food by adding a microbe. We are cultivating a culture of good microbes, the beneficial ones. They are keeping the bad -- bad microbes out.
>> You have been attending this food festival for couple years. Tells about the research you have been doing which is actually a part of the American got Project and the fermentation Festival.
>> The fermentation process is not outside your body but inside your body and inside your gut. That does the same fermentation. We are looking for the relationship between that and your health.
>> You actually started gathering gut samples. Have you been able to draw any conclusions from your research about the connection between fermented foods and got health quick
>> We're seeing height digestion. That is associated with lower incidences of diseases. Right now, we have Association data. We are trying to make it understandable to know which fermented foods increase the amount of bacteria have been there. We also want to go beyond what we are doing with the whole population and ask, is it possible that a particular food could be that good for you?
>> You're saying that diversity in your gut is a good thing?
>> Yes.
>> You said something I want you to explain. You said you have come to associated conclusions. Is that correct?
>> Yes. What we know is if you eat more fermented food, you have more diverse microbes in your gut. We don't know if they go which way. If you have more diverse microbes you can better tolerate things.
>> Did you just love the taste of this stuff?
>> The taste drove me first. I like the sour flavor.:On a hook. And the ease of how fast it was and just add some salt and shredded cabbage and wait a couple weeks and you are good to go.
>> I expect you will have craft brewers at the festival. Do they use this in some way to make their beer?
>> Yes. It is interesting. Beer and fermented foods are close cousins. They use specific yeast strains to make used peer. Then people who make sour beers introduce other microbes which overlap with what we do. They will add this to fresh beer to get this great and deeper sour flavor for beers. The guys into that sort of stuff appreciate it.
>> Are there any risks or down sides?
>> They are generally very safe. If you are on special diets, they are generally very safe.
>> This year are you expecting to take a few more gut samples?
>> We are hoping to. You don't have to produce A's sample right there. You can mail your sample back to us.
>> If one decides to go to the fermentation Festival, what can people expect to seek?
>> We have a great show. We have 12 different workshops and demos including Rob's panel. We have do-it-yourself sauerkraut. We have fresh, organic vegetables. We will tell you what to do when you get home. We have a makers marketplace with 30 or 40 regional vendors sampling and selling things like yogurts and sauerkraut and kimchi. We have a wellness pavilion. In addition to your gut we want to talk about your whole buddy wellness. We have yoga and acupuncture and sound healing.
>> Okay. The fermentation Festival takes place Sunday. We have information on our website about it. Austin Charette is the organizer of the fermentation Festival. Thank you, Austin.
>> Thank you to Rob at night who joined us by Skype. He is a professor and cofounder of the American got Project. Thank you so much.
>> Thank you.
>> Beer may be one of the most familiar of the fermented foods. I guess you don't know how much water went into making a plane. 11 gallons to grow the hops. Sarah wants to replace those with yeast raising the question, what would you drink GM oh beer to conserve water?
>> We walk into a steamy room filled with machines bubbling with liquid. This is the brew is very at UC Davis.
>> Here is a little beer one-to-one. All beer is made from water barley used and hops. Instead he is created yeast to replace the hops.
>> There we go.
>> Okay.
>> The coolest thing is that you can make several batches of beer with the exact same recipe isolating one single variable. The variable here is the use we are using.
>> Hops are vulnerable to climate change. They need a lot of water. Hops are grown and one Valley in the state of Washington. That area is expected to have less water because of higher temperatures and intense drought.
>> If we can eliminate a large chum -- chunk of the hops and trillions of liters of water bend in the process.
>> A friend gave him a home brewing kit a few years ago. His interest in brewing led him to make a discovery.
>> I was sitting in the bathtub reading this textbook about brewing science.
>> He found out how to create molecules to give hops their happy flavor and combine them with yeast cells. I got excited about that. I knew I would be able to engineer these into the microbes that make beer.
>> He is the only scientist using GML yeast to make beer. The getting that to market is tricky.
>> I have friends and family that have concerns about genetic engineering.
>> GM Oak crops are resistant to pesticides. They drifted to nearby farms and kill non-GMO, -- crops. This good escape and also used in the wild. There are no rules that say GML products must be safe to eat or drink. There is only a voluntary process by which scientists can check their creations themselves and then asked the FDA for approval.
>> My lab is kind of in the back of nowhere.
>> He also wants to make sure his beer actually taste good. I met up with him at the sensory lab. Brian Donaldson an expert taster needs him through the process.
>> So let's get you signed in.
>> It's like a doctor's office.
>> He sits down in a private booth. A small door slides open and a woman on the other side had symmetry with samples of beer. Three are from GML yeast and the fourth is the control. He picks up the first glass and takes a sip.
>> That taste like beer.
>> After tasting them all he pushes back his chair and briefs. They actually taste good.
>> I have been nervous all day. All week actually. I feel like a profound sense of relief. Then I am wondering how this will be perceived by expert tasters?
>> As we leave the lab the taster ways in.
>> One was straight up Froot Loops.
>> One was kind of orangey. Like orange blossoms.
>>'s next step will be to get brewing companies to bottle his beer. The biologist has also turned into a brawl himself. He is setting up his own brewery and was to experiment with new flavors. He says by using genetically engineered yeast instead of real hops, beer can taste like anything.