Fermented foods and probiotics are food techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years all around the world. Edible Alchemy specialize in fermented foods and probiotics and were founded in Canada in 2013 by Alexis Goertz. Here she explains her love of all things bacterial in Berlin.
Tell us about the work you do with Edible Alchemy.
Edible Alchemy is the brainchild of two great friends. What we aim to do is educate people about the microbial world in an interactive way by focusing on the ‘edible’ and ‘drinkable’ aspects of things, through fermentation. I am an educator of microbiology in this sense and give workshops on multiple practices of traditional and new forms of fermentation; everything from vegetable fermentation, fruit fermentation, soda-pops, ginger beers, vegan and real cheeses, condiments and more. Often traditional methods, such as making miso, are taught with a flair, like using peas and other lentils rather than soy beans.
Along with workshops and festivals, I give speeches and performances taking the form of the ‘Microbial Circus.’ I am collaborating with costume designers to make outfits out of the bacterias that I grow and put on performances that are not only entertaining but also informative.
I have always been attracted to the tang in foods since I was little, such as pickles, and living in multiple countries with traditional fermentation practices I learnt by default. I studied international development and the relationship between culture and food is incredibly strong. After living in Mozambique, Africa for a year without a fridge, I saw the relation of nutrients and food preservation and flavor in the techniques we used to keep our food over days.
What are the benefits of the drinks?
In drinks such as kombucha, water kefir, milk kefir, and ginger beer we are getting the benefits of natural fermentation, which includes lower sugar levels than the store-bought fizzy pop drinks we buy in the store. The process of lactofermentation means that natural bacterias are feeding on the sugars creating natural bubbles, less calories and producing beneficial enzymes, B-vitamins, vitamin C, antioxidants and various strains of probiotics and good bacteria that help us strengthen our immune system. The benefits are literally endless and there are numerous studies now on how having a healthy gut is connected to a healthy mind and body.
Is the a way to learn more about fermentation?
Check out the website ediblealchemy.co or come to a workshop. You can also gather a group of friends and host Edible Alchemy for a workshop or performance of your choice. There are online webinars to learn the how-tos and what-not-to-dos, and feel free to message me for questions.
Do you think fermented foods should be accessible to everyone, not just those interested in new health food trends, and how can this be achieved?
I am now working towards getting products into the market that are ‘raw’ and ‘probiotic,’ in order to get these things on the market and into anyone’s hands. Probiotic foods are a trend now; however, they have been around since our ancestors were alive and making these things out of necessity and tradition. More cases of IBS, autism, obesity, allergies and gut issues in general are popping up in this generation possibly as a result of less probiotic foods. We need to simply get back to our roots and support the markets to supply ultra-fresh products that have short expiry dates, but full nutrition.
Why have you chosen the great city of Berlin to base your project?
Berlin is a catalyst for young entrepreneurs. I brought my project here from Winnipeg, Canada, curious to see if people would be interested in the microbial world, and after setting up my first ‘Probiotic Bacteria Bar’ at a festival, sampling drinks and sharing about the bacterias I had on display, the entire day I had a full table of interested people and saw the potential. From then on, I partnered with different projects, co-working spaces and entrepreneurs who seemed open to accept Edible Alchemy’s unique quest.
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