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A growing interest in ldquogut healthrdquo is helping fermented foods thrive as illustrated in this selection of sauerkrauts on display at Expo East
<p>A growing interest in &ldquo;gut health&rdquo; is helping fermented foods thrive, as illustrated in this selection of sauerkrauts on display at Expo East.</p>

Food takes a gut check

Pickling vegetables as a means of preserving them dates back some 4,000 years, but the ancient practice has never been more opportune.

Riding a wave of interest in “gut health” and associated probiotic properties said to aid in digestion and potentially battle conditions like diabetes — fermented foods, from kimchees to sauerkrauts to salsas, were all the rage at last month’s Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore.

The probiotics trend — which first proved a hit in yogurts — now includes moves by some products to introduce probiotics in their formulations, such as Enjoy Life foods, the gluten-free line that was showcasing new brownie and muffin mixes with probiotics included.

“The fermented and probiotics trend is huge,” Eric Pierce, director of strategy and insights for New Hope Natural Media, said. “If you’re a specialty store you already know this but grocery  supermarkets are only  seeing the beginning of this growth.”

While there was a wide variety of packaged fermented foods, one exhibitor had something for the do-it-yourselfers, selling pickling kits — consisting of an airlock, lid, brine cup, salt and recipe booklet. Rebekeh Ober of Perfect Pickler said display boxes are a natural fit in produce sections, anytime supermarket retailers are ready for them.

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