Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:27 pm

"Am I going to die?" "Will this make me sick?"

The perennial questions.

I've yet to actually hear from someone who's become ill. I've never become ill from any of my ferments. I suppose if someone died from fermented food, they wouldn't be around to report it to us.

Sandor's response to botulism question. He also mentions something here that may address your concern about the consistency of the brine you posted about previously, "Bubbly, thick brine."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QdhSFfaoz0
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Nerium on Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:06 pm

I watched the video--very encouraging and answers all of my questions. Thank you, Tim!
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Christopher Weeks on Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:10 pm

I had a nuka pot for six or eight months. Sometimes the stuff I pulled out of it was so strong and weird that there's no way I can say it tasted good. But I was trying hard to expand my horizons, so I'd eat it anyway. From time to time, I'd feel mildly nausiated for an hour or two afterward. But I don't think there was any problem with the microorganisms -- more likely just psychological.

That's as close as I come.
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Chewy on Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:35 pm

The video is dead wrong. Of course you can get botulism from fermented foods. Sandor is not a scientist. He has no qualifications to make his erroneous statements. Beware. The video is WRONG.
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:55 pm

Beware? I'm generally waring of statements intended to scare others, especially when such statements lack qualifying information. Are you a scientist Chewy?

I think Sandor is perfectly qualified to make statements regarding the general safety of home-fermented foods given his range of experience and the amount of research that went into writing his books...even if he's not a scientist. Do scientists prepare your food?

And he is absolutely right about botulism. Clostridium botulinum can survive under a range of conditions, but it's only in an anaerobic environment that it creates botulinum toxin. Anything you ferment at home will NEVER be in a perfectly anaerobic environment. Probably not even close.

If you canned your sauerkraut AFTER fermenting it, that would be another story. But that's why your pressure cooker comes with instructions.

So who do you know that got botulism from eating sauerkraut?
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:16 pm

Look, here's something for everyone to think about. The 'scares' we face about food safety, the scares we grew up believing are a post-industrial phenomenon.

Once upon a time we had no industrial agriculture where food was produced on an enormous scale. We had no factories where the food was processed and packaged on an enormous scale, and we had no airplanes, 18-wheelers or massive cargo ships to distribute that food on an enormous scale.

It wasn't until the industrial model hit food production that we started having hordes of people becoming sick from a SINGLE SOURCE of food. The government had to start regulating food safety because of big business, NOT because of the traditional farmer or food artisan.

The gov't says raw is bad, you'll get sick, maybe die. This may be true if that raw milk has to be trucked in from out of town, gets mixed with milk from dozens or hundreds of other dairy farms, and then has to be redistributed to retail outlets for people who have no clue or interest in where their milk even comes from. All this done by workers who are probably not all that enthusiastic about the work they do.

If you get your raw milk from the farmer down the road, or just outside the city limits, the day it came out of the cow, you're not going to get sick. And if somebody does get sick in this scenario, the responsible party is easily identified. If Farmer Brown is selling milk to people he knows, he has a seriously vested interest in selling good product. Our current industrial model is not so transparent or demanding of quality.

The fact that most people get botulism from canned food, food that is massed-produced and mass-distributed, is testament.
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:34 pm

Something else to think about: If people are scared of making their own food, if they're raised to believe they're not qualified to create something wholesome and safe, then this simply reinforces the industrial model. I suspect most people who subscribe to this forum don't believe the industrial model is providing us with wholesome food.

So learn your craft, use common sense, and DON'T BE AFRAID TO FERMENT!
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby fermented-vegan on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:34 am

Hello Nerium, :)

I've never ever gotten sick on anything I've fermented! And let me tell you, I've tasted some nasty looking stuff. Mind you, anything even remotely questionable as far as mold or a really off smelling ferment, was tasted only in small amounts to verify what my nose and sight was telling me that the ferment was spoiled. But otherwise, I very much trust my vision and sense of taste and smell to tell me if a ferment is safe to eat.

Tim is right on with his posts! If fermenting food was a major cause of illness and death, then our forefathers would not have been doing it. They would have found another way to prolong the harvest till the next growing season. On top of that, it's the industrialization of our food sources through using chemicals, pure refined foods, and packaging methods that kill healthy live bacteria that causes a lot of our typical illnesses we see in our society. Doing your own wild, raw, organic ferments is one part of taking back control of your own health, and also having something tasty to eat. :D

Peace & Love from a vegan :)
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Nerium on Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:39 am

This is a very interesting discussion,

I'm not sure how much I trust our mass-produced food. There was a time when I thought that it was the only way to go because those companies knew what they are doing and they wouldn't want to risk a lawsuit by making us sick, right?! Then I kept hearing about various food recalls because of botulism (bottle carrot juice), e.coli (alfalfa sprouts) and listeriosis (lunch meat) and it has made me second guess the trust that I had in these companies.

As a germaphobe, it has taken me time to get used to the idea that bacteria can actually be beneficial to us. A few years ago, everything in my environment had to be sterile. I poured a capful of bleach into my sink when I washed my dishes--every day! I cleaned everything in my house with bleach. I was washing my hands until they would crack. There wierd thing is, I was still getting sick. I was still getting colds and flus and touches of food poisoning just like everyone else.

It's only been the last 7 months that I am noticing that I haven't been sick yet. I am around people with colds and stomach 'bugs' and I am always thinking that I am going to catch it, but I don't. It could be because I've been following a vegan diet, could be from consuming fermented products, could be because I gave up using bleach, could be a combination of the three--I'm not sure.

After reading Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions and Sandor's book Wild Fermentation, I am learning that there is a delicate balance in life, and eradicating all of the bacteria, just to avoid coming in contact with the 'bad' ones isn't a healthy way of living. If people with weakened immune systems, such as those living with HIV, can benefit from naturally fermented foods, than surely everyone can. I think both of these authors would be in serious trouble if they published advice that could be harmful to our health.

That being said, Chewy, if you are a microbiologist and have some new information to share with us, please enlighten us!
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Re: Ever gotten sick from fermented food?

Postby Tim Hall on Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am

I'm certain Chewy is not a microbiologist. Anyway here's some thoughts on balance.

This obviously doesn't apply to everyone's diet here, but I've learned something interesting about microbes from milk. In my experience raw milk has a tendency to "sour." This is an important distinction from "spoil." Pasteurized milk, while it may have a longer shelf-life as liquid milk, tends to spoil. It turns putrid and stinks.

Funny how NON-sterilized milk wants to become something still edible like yogurt, kefir or cheese. Same is true for grapes and apples wanting to become wine. Maybe it's providence these fruits bear copious amounts of yeast on their skins? Wash the yeast off, and the fruit rots instead of fermenting.

Regarding obsessive worry over sanitation & sterilization - if you plan to make war with microbes, consider you're outnumbered a billion to one. Better to make friends in my opinion.
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