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Fermented Foods Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste

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Have you ever been to the farmers market and seen those veggies that are slightly misshapen? Maybe you thought, whoa, what is going on there? Or you thought, oh I love it because it’s imperfect, just like me. Well, those ugly veggies are the ones that The Crafty Pickle Co likes to acquire to make their fermented foods. They are seeking to market their foods a little differently than many other fermented foods companies.

Companies selling fermented foods often boast of the health benefits you may receive from consuming their products. But The Crafty Pickle Co is focused more on the sustainability aspects of their fermented food products. I’ll tell you all about this company here in, Part 5, of the Fermented Foods Series.


As a recap, in the previous post, Part 4 of the Fermented Foods Series, I discussed the use of fermented foods as an educational tool in microbiology labs. If you haven’t read it, go back and check it out.

To help get you oriented, this is the last part of the Fermented Foods Series. Here in Part 5, I’m sharing two interesting takes on fermented foods, but I’ve broken it into two subparts: Part 5a and Part 5b. Here in Part 5a, I’ll share about The Crafty Pickle Co’s alternative marketing strategy. In the second part, Part 5b, I’ll tell you about a research lab that is developing a way to use kombucha scobys to create useful materials.

Below is an outline of Part 5:​

  • Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste
    • How did the owners of The Crafty Pickle Co get interested in fermented foods?
    • What triggered the idea to start The Crafty Pickle Co?
    • What is the purpose of The Crafty Pickle Co?
  • Part 5b: The Many Uses of Kombucha Scoby Cellulose
    • What is a kombucha scoby?
    • How are kombucha scobys being used to create materials?
    • Why are they using kombucha scobys?
    • How do they functionalize the scoby cellulose?

So, let’s get started with Part 5a of the Fermented Foods Series!

How did the owners of The Crafty Pickle Co get interested in fermented foods?​

Fermented Foods Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste | Joyful Microbe

Madi Myers and Arthur Serini, the owners of The Crafty Pickle Co. Photo by Scottish Institute for Enterprise

Madi Myers and Arthur Serini, the owners of The Crafty Pickle Co, tell me that fermented foods played a role in their love story. Initially, Madi became interested in fermented foods after participating in a sauerkraut workshop at a festival in New Zealand. Though she enjoyed making sauerkraut, she didn’t enjoy the flavor—at least not until she had done some more experimenting on her own. After she met Arthur, her love for fermented foods grew along with her love for him. The two met when they were working on their master’s degrees, and Madi was excited to be able to share her interest in fermented foods with someone. Madi would make sauerkraut for Arthur, and when she’d bring it to school, his friends would ask what the smell was. He’d tell them, “it’s a gift from Madi, and it’s actually some of the best sauerkraut I’ve ever had.” Madi was the one who developed almost all of their current recipes and clearly loves sauerkraut now that she’s figured out her favorite ways to make it. “So, that’s basically our love story, says Arthur. “Our fermented love story,” says Madi. “We bonded over fermenting cabbage,” says Arthur.

What triggered the idea to start The Crafty Pickle Co?​


Arthur and Madi’s interest in starting the business began when they were traveling through the Scottish highlands (sounds dreamy). Madi brought along some sauerkraut she had made, and to Arthur, it seemed strange to see “unrefrigerated sauerkraut that’s on the road for two weeks.” But the food remained delicious due to the preservative properties of fermentations.

Fermented Foods Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste | Joyful Microbe

An unfermented batch of The Crafty Pickle Co’s Reclaimed Red Kraut (red cabbage, mustard kraut) next to the fermented version. Photo by The Crafty Pickle Co.

So, they got to thinking about the food preservation aspects of fermented foods and how important it was and still is for those who lack access to refrigeration. And yet many companies don’t even mention this advantage when they market their products. Instead, they focus on the potential gut health benefits. So, Arthur and Madi decided to start a company that would preserve the food that would have gone to waste by creating fermented food products (sauerkraut, kimchi, salsa, and piccalilli).

Fermented Foods Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste | Joyful Microbe

A delicious-looking meal with The Crafty Pickle Co’s Reclaimed Red Kraut. Photo by The Crafty Pickle Co.

What is the purpose of The Crafty Pickle Co?​


To begin incorporating these foods that would have gone to waste, they turned to the fruits and vegetables that the stores don’t want due to imperfections. This food is either thrown away or used for purposes other than for human consumption (bioenergy or livestock feed).

And how much food goes to waste each year? According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about one-third of the food that was meant to be consumed by humans “gets lost or wasted.” So, Arthur says they are “trying to access that produce that’s being mistreated because of its looks.”

Arthur and Madi want to focus on fighting food waste and avoid making health claims the way that many other companies do. “A lot of brands are all about clean eating and health, and ours is more about trying to debunk most of the marketing tools that these companies have been using. Our mission is ending food waste and saving as much food as possible,” says Arthur. To top it off, they give a percentage of their profits to charity to support food insecurity.

So, there you have it. The Crafty Pickle Co is a truly unique fermented foods company, and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for them. In the meantime, if you are in Aberdeen, make sure you go check them out.

This post is only one subpart of Part 5 of the Fermented Foods Series, so go on and read Part 5b where I’ll share about a fascinating use of kombucha scobys.

The post Fermented Foods Part 5a: A Fermented Foods Company Fighting Food Waste appeared first on Joyful Microbe.
 
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