Aktualisiert: Feb 9
Fermented vegetables! A wonderful thing & the latest craze among the health conscious people. The gut bacteria, microbiome, the second brain, probiotics, the gut & mood connection, the proper bacteria & health connection. You hear about all those things more & more. They are all wonderful terms & so true. But there's one problem that most people are not even aware of, and especially the people who make those wonderful fermented foods (and drinks). And most probably neither are you - you, the customer.
Do you know what that problem is? The problem is the use of the same thing that pollutes our cities & our waters. The thing that fills the landfills & takes up to 1000 years to decompose.
Any guesses yet?
It's the PLASTIC!
So your next question would be: what plastic has to do with fermented vegetables?
It can have a lot to do & it does more often than you think.
First, fermented vegetables & other fermented foods has been around for thousands of years. The traditional method of making them was to ferment them in some stoneware or in wood & eventually in glass. Never they have been done before in plastic. And it has nothing to do with the fact that plastic is a recent invention. Even if plastic was around much sooner, people back then would never use it for fermentation. People were smarter & more intuitive back then.
So, why are some people using plastics? For one, they might not be aware of the hidden dangers. For two, plastic cheaper than the traditional fermenting vessels & that factor can & is the most important factor for some producers.
Now you should ask why shouldn't they use plastics?
The answer is simple. During the process of fermentation different organic compounds, enzymes & acids are formed. And those things, especially the acids react with plastics & they pull chemicals out of those plastics & as a end result you get a Molotov cocktail of those synthetic compounds in your vegetables.
Here is a quote from My Plastic Free Life describing what plastics are: (1*)
" According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “plastics are made from liquid petroleum gases (LPG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas. LPG are by-products of petroleum refining, and NGL are removed from natural gas before it enters transmission pipelines.”
By now everybody heard about BPA & its effect on hormones. So here's one more quote from there:
" But what’s of even more concern is that even supposedly “safe” plastics have been found to have hormone-disrupting effects." (2*)
If you're interested in how plastics effect your health, you can do your own research. There's plenty of information on this subject. And don't buy into the argument that somebody is using a food grade plastic containers, so they are safe. There's NO such things as safe plastics. Even water sitting in plastic bottles for a while gets polluted by plastic compounds.
So if you are buying them from some company that makes them, you should always have this question in mind. Do they use plastics during the fermentation process & do they pack the finished product in either plastic jars, bags or bottles? If they do & you still buy them, then remember that you have been warned.
Now back to all of our products. First is the preparation process. Here we only use stainless steel buckets & bowls for our vegetables, like this pic from our Kimchi preparation:
During the fermentation process that usually takes a minimum of one month for our vegetables, we use special fermentation crocks (and sometimes glass jars). Those fermentation crocks are made by K&K Keramik. And it is a stoneware made by a German company that specializes in fermentation crocks. What is important about them is the fact that the glazing that they use is a natural glaze that is lead-free & cadmium free. It is also resistant to all natural acids.
We own a fleet of those. We have some 16 liter ones, some 10 liter & few smaller ones. Here's a pic of some of them in action:
Some of our ferments are done solely in glass. Like these delicious Preserved Lemons:
Here's another pic of our showcase ferments:
When the fermentation is over, all of our ferments go into glass jars for retail purchase:
The same goes for our Fermented Beet Kvass:
Or even Fermented Soda, when in season:
Same goes for our Water Kefir & Milk Kefir:
The only exception to this strict no-plastic rule is the fact that we have to use plastic strainers for both Kefirs, as the cultures can be harmed by metal. But this is just a brief contact & we use wooden spoons during the straining process.
As you can see, it is simple with us, stoneware or glass!
So if you are buying vegetables from somebody else, even in a BIO (Organic) store, you should always check on whether any type of plastic was used in any of the above described processes.
The cover picture has a wonderful book written by Christopher & Kirsten Shockey
To answer the original question from the title. Yes, they are healthy. But stay away from plastics & containers with lead & cadmium glazes.