In the weeks to come, I'm going to post about several issues and products we discovered at this conference, and the first one that bears mention is kombucha.
At last week's conference, we were intrigued by a presentation, led by WBEZ radio host Monica Eng, on the subject of kombucha. The two subject matter experts for this talk were Vanessa Tortolano and Alla Shapiro, founders and kombucha queens at NessAlla, producers of fine kombucha in Madison, Wisconsin. Although they sell their products through local retail outlets like Marion Street Cheese Market and local restaurants like Munch, they are both strong proponents for making your own Kombucha.
Kombucha, if you don't know, is a bubbly drink made by fermenting tea with yeast and other bacteria. It probably originated in Manchuria, northern China. You can make it at home.
Although Tortolano and Shapiro began their discussion by presenting Kombucha as kind of a soda-alternative, it's clearly much more than just that. Its health benefits include the ability to fight:
* Joint pain. You may be taking glucosamine for joint pain (we do). Glucosamine occurs naturally in kombucha.
* Infections. Antioxidants in Kombucha strengthen the immune system.
* Depression. Kombucha contains probiotics, which are said to be helpful in alleviating depression, helping digestion and relieving symptoms of fibromyalgia.
* Cancer. Okay, I understand you might roll your eyes at this one, but kombucha contains glucaric acid, which some studies indicate can reduce risk of cancer.
Whatever its health benefits, we drank some and, you know, it tastes pretty good. Better than soda.
Cool thing is, you can make your own kompucha by buying a bottle of the stuff to use as a starter. More here: http://www.nessalla.com/