My name is Jan, and my friends call me Fermenter Extraordinaire. I’d like to tell you my story because maybe my story will resemble your story.
I’m 75 years old; a wife and mother, grandmother of 11 and great grandmother of almost 5. In 2010, I weighed 198 pounds and had asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, and high blood pressure. I took medications for pain, inflammation, depression, and anxiety. To use one of my mother’s favorite sayings, I was falling apart like a dollar watch.
Then one of my daughters-in-law, who was trying to help me eat healthy, told me about the health benefits of fermentation, especially fermented cabbage or sauerkraut. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I thought that I could treat it as medicine, even if I didn’t like it. So I started making fermented kraut. I made lots of mistakes, but I kept going. I ate a cup of kraut every morning. I drank a lot of water, and I tried to walk a lot.
During this time, I was inspired by Sandor Katz’s book Wild Fermentation, because he overcame a very bad disease. I also relied on Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions and Wardee Harmon’s book Idiot’s Guide to Fermentation.
I started to change my life in other ways. At a niece’s urging, in September 2010, I started taking classes at a community college for the first time. It was a big challenge, because I hadn’t done that well in school as a child. To get to classes I walked up three flights of stairs, 13 steps to each level, rather than take the elevator. I found the steps became easier as time went by.
I was on the road to recovery. I gradually cut out all my medications. I found that fermented foods are also good for the mind – I got s A’s and B’s in my courses.
Pretty soon my clothes were hanging on me, so I had to buy some new clothes for school. I was so excited, because food used to jump on to me and hang on for dear life. At my next yearly medical checkup, I stepped on the scales and found I had lost 50 pounds. I eventually went from a size 18 to a size 8. My doctor asked me for my medication list and I told him I didn’t have one because I had started eating fermented kraut. When he saw the test results, he said that I was in really good health.
I’m no longer in pain, don’t get sick, and I have lots of energy. I can’t eat my kraut after 2 pm or else I’m awake all night trying to figure out what I can do quietly while the rest are sleeping.
Now I do presentations, trying to teach others, especially my generation, how to eat and live differently. It’s so wonderful to feel younger, and now I can enjoy what the younger generation does. They love taking their ol’ ma and grandma for a ride on their dune buggies or quads as fast as they can, and I love it, too! People ask, “When are you going to quit?” and I reply, “When I can’t get my leg over the seat.”