Byron Bay Alive Foods

David Mendes and Anna Surrey of Byron Bay Alive Foods at their Mullumbimby Farmers Market stall.

David Mendes and Anna Surrey of Byron Bay Alive Foods at their Mullumbimby Farmers Market stall.

Over the course of the past few years, fermented foods have moved from the fringe to front and centre.

Research into the human microbiome and the importance of good gut bacteria has helped bring ferments like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir – all of which contain the good bacteria or probiotics that can help improve digestion and gut health – into the mainstream.

Anna Surrey, who runs fermented food business Alive Foods Byron Bay with her partner David Mendes, says it’s been heartening to see so many more people becoming interested in the benefits of fermented foods.

“It’s an essential part of our overall health and immune health. Eating fermented foods as a condiment was just one of those things that people used to do all the time in all cultures as a part of daily life. It’s great if we can bring it back so people can look after their health.”

Anna and David’s range of ferments are all created locally using certified organic cabbage, vegetables, herbs and spices; and include Traditional Sauerkraut, Earth and Seakraut with seaweed, turmeric and ginger; French Beetroot with garlic and herbs and Kim Chi with garlic ginger and chilli.

Anna says fermented foods are excellent for digestion, and support the immune system to help prevent illness. They are particularly helpful to boost immunity during the winter cold and flu season.

“It ties in with the whole food as medicine thing and food as a preventative,” she said.

“Over 85% of the immune system is located in the gut and a healthy immune system will help you fight off illness.”

Anna says another benefit of fermented foods like sauerkraut is their unique flavour. They contain umami, the so-called fifth taste (in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter), which translates as savoury or delicious.

“Even if you don’t like it in the beginning, you slowly incorporate it into your food and then you realise your body has been craving it and you really want more of it. You can really grow into liking it more and then you actually realise it should be part of your diet.”

• Find Byron Bay Alive Foods at the Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday.

– Story and pic by Kate O’Neill

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