Cultured foods are all around us, at least they have been historically. The bread we toast, the cheese we melt, the pickles we crunch, and the soda we drink... all of these were originally living cultured foods.
And now these are amongst the favorite foods of our society, yet almost none of them are truly cultured in the way that they were intended.
This makes it easy, and a bit difficult, when it comes to feeding cultured foods to our families. It is easy because these are types of food they recognize, but it is difficult because the particular brands are foods they may have grown attached to and even a slight variation can be met with strong emotions.
There are ways to address the struggles you may find in the process of attempting to win your family members over to cultured foods. It is possible to truly get your family 100% on board with these foods, and also possible to completely turn them off.
There are three main types of family members you may be working with.
These are by far the easiest group to introduce to cultured foods. What you feed them is what they will know and what they will prefer. If you give them plain yogurt, fermented pickles, sourdough bread, and well-aged cheeses they will come to love these foods.
If they are given a taste for tangy and bitter flavors they will come to appreciate them naturally just as they do sweet and salty flavors. Keep some foods as everyday foods like yogurt, vegetables, sourdough breads, etc. And keep foods like sweets, processed foods, and sweet beverages to a minimum.
This may be the toughest crowd you will deal with, depending on what the food culture (pun intended) has been in your home up until now. Older children have been programmed in one direction or the other by this point and turning the ship around may be harder than we’d like it to be.
If you have recently come to include cultured foods in your diet for various reasons, the first thing you need to do is talk to your children about them. If up to now you’ve said that what they are eating is fine, then they are going to need an explanation as to why they should change their habits.
Saying “I was wrong” is important. If you found out that the breads you were eating aren’t ideal or the canned vegetables are inferior to cultured ones, then tell them that. Let them in on this journey of knowledge that you are taking so that they can understand why it is important to eat cultured foods.
Now it is time to implement a few minor and easy changes. Give them foods that they will recognize as a familiar favorite, but with a cultured twist. Sour cream is easy. Sourdough bread might be easy. Salsa served with chips alongside a flavored water kefir might go down more easily than you’d think.
Once they are dipping their toes in the water, begin to explain to them the benefits of these cultured foods while simultaneously pulling back on the old foods they were eating. So slowly change their diets while you inform them.
Depending on your spouse, this may be more a matter of time and talk than anything else. Just as you teach your children, talk with your spouse. The key here is not to lecture about how bad that soda is and how good water kefir could be.
You want to bring them alongside you as you are learning and exploring. You do not want to talk down to them as if they don’t know as much as you, or are making inferior food choices in some way.
So open up that cool book you picked up on culturing foods. Read them a few snippets and then talk about how that applies to you and your family. Maybe it will save you money to make it at home. Maybe the cultured pickles are actually tastier than the store-bought varieties. You may even discover that your spouse embraces and participates in some of your culturing projects!
And then along the way introduce them first to the tastiest ferments like water kefir, sour cream, salsa, pickles, and yogurt. Once their taste buds are on board, the agreement will follow, and you can all live as one happy cultured food-loving family.