Fermented foods have become something of a culinary trend. Raw cheese, small-batch brew, Greek yogurt, dried meats, and pickled foods are legitimate staples in markets and on menus throughout the state. And each of these artisanal foodstuffs contain thousands of living multiorganisms that many believe give the body healing powers, aiding digestion and increasing vitamin absorption, for instance. Mark Cox, co-owner of Fermenti Artisan has even made it the basis of his career. Last January, he and business partner Joshua Henson opened the City Market stall to enlighten others through incredibly satisfying dishes. Their beneficial bacteria has come in many forms: a tangy Reuben with housemade sauerkraut and sourdough, a garden-fresh salad topped with cheese from Traders Point Creamery, and a gingery effervescent kefir water. They also raise and cure their own meat, and grow the cabbage for their kraut. A year later, he still speaks with an evangelical tongue about the pleasures (and benefits) of fostering and consuming edible cultures. “We’re not trying to be trendy, it’s just really the right thing to do,” says Cox.
Now an energetic 37-year-old with bright eyes and radiant skin, he acknowledges he didn’t always care about wellness. He was not raised in a pickling family: He grew up eating processed commercial foods, and then waited tables at steakhouse and seafood chains. “I was five pant sizes bigger, suffered from attention deficit disorder, and didn’t have any energy,” he says. In 2006, through the studies of a turn-of-the-century researcher named Weston A. Price, Cox and Henson discovered that wellness begins with a healthy gut. Cox believes that today’s overprocessed food system takes out important bacteria our bodies need. “I immediately woke up and began my own preventative maintenance, and lacto-fermentation was the missing link in my life.”
>> Mark Cox’s Favorite Things
(1) Bike-riding: “I commute year-round.”
(2) Vinyl: “Especially hard techno. It’s what makes me level.”
(3) Farmers markets and eating farm-fresh food with friends.
(4) Travel: “The Alps through France, Italy, and Switzerland, hiking on the Haute Route trail.”
Photo by Tony Valainis
This is an expanded version of an article in the January 2013 issue.