A quest to live for a year on “100 percent…fermented meals and fermented drinks.”
Most people would quickly abandon the idea of eating only one type of food for a year. Writer and brewer Dellinger first contemplated eating only fermented foods for a year as a thought experiment rather than an achievable challenge. Like many, the author was vexed about the American diet and knew that there was something wrong at the core of the food system. However, he was also confused about what made for a truly healthy diet. Dellinger began reading about the roles of microbes living in our bodies and the environment they create. He also had a solid foundation for starting his yearlong project: for several years, he had been absorbed with the home-brewing of cider, beer, and kombucha and was “enamored of fermentation and the myriad transformational possibilities it represented.” Dellinger ably explains the wide range of fermented foods, the role flavor plays, health benefits, and the basic processes, and he includes a few recipes. Citing his passion for craft beers as the impetus for his experimentation with fermented foods, the author offers a theory called the “Triangle of Simple Complex Foods.” The most recognizable foods within this concept are beer, bread, and cheese. All are fermented and require numerous steps in their preparation. Now mass-produced and marketed, the most crucial component of their being, fermentation, has been marginalized. Throughout the book, the author delves into the strangeness of the American system of nutrition—e.g., the demonization of butter and the promotion of margarine as a viable substitute or the confusion regarding cholesterol and heart health. Dellinger notes his year of consuming fermented foods was not without psychological ups and downs, but the journey was tempered by the knowledge he gained concerning microbes and gut health.
The author hopes his intriguing experiments will open eyes and palates to the culinary and health benefits of fermented foods.