My Story

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.”