Collier and Lee Counties Edition

Southwest Floridians Favor Fermented No-Pill Probiotics

Within the last several years bathing the gastrointestinal tract in the healthy, food-related organisms that are found in fermented foods has been growing in popularity. Initially, shopping in a southwest Florida grocery store for more fermented foods than yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese or pickles, felt more like participating in a treasure hunt, with few clues. The more widespread recognition of how beneficial bacteria aid in the digestion process combined with consumer demand has resulted in a resurgence of interest in fermented foods, which were once preserved by our ancestors that stocked them on their pantry shelves. Today, not only are the more exotic examples such as kimchi and kombucha, sold in local health food stores but also in big local chain grocery stores.

Earth Origins Market, Fort Myers

Melissa Bystry, marketing specialist for all Earth Origins Market locations, advises, “Many customers, who come into the store ask for probiotic foods because they don’t want to take a pill. Our associates direct them to the foods we carry such as sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha (bottled and on tap), tempeh, which is fermented soy, and kefir.

Many of our associates at each location are educated on fermented foods and their benefits. One associate in particular was raised in a household where it was an important factor and most have picked up the knowledge from working in our stores for many years.

Earth Origins Market carries fermented supplements, which increase bioavailability, and kevita, a probiotic drink similar to kombucha, as well as a raw and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and assorted juices as a byproduct of the sauerkraut-making process. A line of sour cream, cottage cheese and cream cheese, which is fully cultured with live probiotics, is also available. “All of these foods are suggested over yogurt because yogurt only has up to three strains of probiotics. The others have much more,” says Bystry.

Ada’s, Fort Myers

At Ada’s in Fort Myers, Winfield Lentz, Director of Analytics and Infrastructure Development, confirms that many regular customers are now more informed regarding fermented foods and come to purchase probiotics that are not in pill form. Most requests are similar to those reported by Bystry.

“Customers are enjoying our 221 BC Kombucha on tap. They appreciate that it is a living beverage produced and bottled in Sarasota. We carry several popular flavors—berry/hibiscus, ginger, mint matcha honey, lavender moringa, and orange turmeric,” says Lentz

Food & Thought, Naples

Maintaining a militantly organic approach to purchasing products that allows shoppers to relax about reading labels and not be concerned about what they are eating in the café or at the coffee and juice bar, keeps the staff hopping to stay ahead of savvy longtime customers. “We’ve been carrying customer favorites such as sprouted bread, miso, tempeh and kombucha since we opened in 2006. We’ve also continued to research products and expand our offerings of fermented foods such as the kefir made from coconut water. It’s totally nondairy and sometimes a little too vinegary for some people’s taste buds,” says Food & Thought’s Michael Monteleone.

He notes that the store carries a line of multivitamins that are fermented with whole foods and beneficial probiotics. They include a nutrient-packed fermentate that delivers beneficial factors including beta-glucans. Found in the cell walls of bacteria and plants these boost the immune system.

Local Resources

Ada’s Natural Market, 7070 College Pkwy., Fort Myers.

Earth Origins Market, 15121 S. Tamiami Tr., Ste. 104, Fort Myers, 239-210-3256.

Food & Thought, 2132 Tamiami Tr. N., Naples, 239-213-2222.

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