A look at local food week and the fermentation frenzy

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Wednesday, August 5, 2015 11:03pm
  • News

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error. Sandor Katz’ will be speaking Friday at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center for the Harvest Mooon Local Food Festival.

Beginning today, the Central Kenai Peninsula is being treated to a feverous week full of fermentation during the third Harvest Moon Local Food Festival.

The Kenai Local Food Connection, and a conglomeration of their local partners, has stuffed the schedule with workshops, presenters, walks and tastings, all centered on the arts and affections of fermentation.

Ambition behind the annual event is twofold: promote local foods; and “take back healthy eating into our own hands,” said festival co-organizer and cofounder Eliza Eller.

This year’s theme came about quite naturally, Eller said. In a serendipitous twist, New York Times best selling author of The Art of Fermentation, and fermentation revivalist, Sandor Katz’s first visit to Alaska coincided with the festival.

Katz will be giving a presentation Friday evening at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center from 7 to 9 p.m., where he said he hopes to illuminate the link between the simple process of product breakdown and health.

“People don’t realize to what degree they are already eating and drinking fermented foods,” Katz said.

Cheese, beer, bread, kombucha, pickles, kimchee, soy and miso are a few of the many common products associated with fermentation — the reconstruction of carbohydrates into alcohols, gases and acids. Pickling, brewing, aging and curing are a few processes that facilitate conversion.

People also often don’t know how simple fermenting is, and may be fearful of growing “bad bacteria” while doing it at home, Katz said. Fermented foods encourage intestinal health, provide vital acids and help with digestion, although not all are nutritionally equal, and promote a variety of benefits, he said.

Right now there is a growing interest nationwide in probiotics, which are foods such as yogurt that have not been heated after the fermentation process is complete, Katz said. There are subsets of fermentation that are only beginning to be touched upon, he said.

During his first trip to the state Katz said he has seen local interests in fermenting range from sourdough bread to pickled garden vegetables to preserving the meat from marine mammals that are prevalent in coastal waters.

People have been fermenting their food for thousands of years, and is almost essential for a balanced diet year round in arctic regions, Katz said.

“There are so many wonderful foods in Alaska, oh my goodness,” Eller said.

Fermenting local products can prevent and address many modern illnesses, assist struggling economies and cross cultural lines, Eller said.

This is the biggest food week festival to be held on the central Kenai Peninsula so far, Eller said.

Director of Wellness and Prevention at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Dr. Gary Ferguson will tie everything about the benefits of good bacteria together from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Dena’ina Wellness Center, Eller said. A berry walk hosted by the University of Fairbanks Cooperative Extension service, a series of local farm tours and wine tastings at Alaska Berries will bring out the fun and finer sides of fermentation throughout the week, she said.

Her son Connor Eller will be giving a talk Monday at the Kenaitze Dena’ina Wellness Center on one of her favorite fermented foods — miso, with just a hint of spice.

“It’s just the most nourishing, warming, delicious way to start the day,” Eller said.

Katz said, while often focusing on pickled vegetables, he also enjoys bread, beer and cheese.

“All of which go together very well,” Katz said with a laugh. “Luckily I don’t have to chose a favorite.”

For a complete list of all Local Food Week events visit kenailocalfood.org.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

tease
House District 6 race gets 3rd candidate

Alana Greear filed a letter of intent to run on April 5

Kenai City Hall is seen on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai water treatment plant project moves forward

The city will contract with Anchorage-based HDL Engineering Consultants for design and engineering of a new water treatment plant pumphouse

Students of Soldotna High School stage a walkout in protest of the veto of Senate Bill 140 in front of their school in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi students walk out for school funding

The protest was in response to the veto of an education bill that would have increased school funding

The Kenai Courthouse as seen on Monday, July 3, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Clam Gulch resident convicted of 60 counts for sexual abuse of a minor

The conviction came at the end of a three-week trial at the Kenai Courthouse

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Seward, Alaska, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024. (screenshot)
Borough awards contract for replacement of Seward High School track

The project is part of a bond package that funds major deferred maintenance projects at 10 borough schools

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President LaDawn Druce, left, and committee Chair Jason Tauriainen, right, participate in the first meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Four Day School Week Ad Hoc Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
4-day school week committee talks purpose of potential change, possible calendar

The change could help curb costs on things like substitutes, according to district estimates

A studded tire is attached to a very cool car in the parking lot of the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Studded tire removal deadline extended

A 15-day extension was issued via emergency order for communities above the 60 degrees latitude line

A sign for Peninsula Community Health Services stands outside their facility in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
PCHS to pursue Nikiski expansion, moves to meet other community needs

PCHS is a private, nonprofit organization that provides access to health care to anyone in the community

Jordan Chilson votes in favor of an ordinance he sponsored seeking equitable access to baby changing tables during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs ordinance seeking to increase access to baby changing tables

The ordinance requires all newly constructed or renovated city-owned and operated facilities to include changing tables installed in both men’s and women’s restrooms

Most Read