Ferment to Change this World! Cultural Revivalist Manifesto by Sandor Katz

This is an inspiring manifesto from The Art of Fermentation – the book that we encourage everyone who wants to get into brewing with us to read as foundational knowledge. The book is "an in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world". A Cultural Revivalist Manifesto is its epilogue... It captures the spirit with which we can make these changes, step by step, plant by plant and ferment by ferment... We have taken the time to type it out by hand to get a better grasp of it ourselves and because it can only be found as a PDF for free download across the rest of the internet, so get this! 

A Cultural Revivalist Manifesto


"WE MUST RECLAIM OUR FOOD. Food is much more than simply nourishment. It embodies a complex web of relationships. It is a huge part of the context in which we exist. Reclaiming our food means actively involving ourselves in this web. 

The foods that fill our contemporary supermarket shelves are products of a globalised infrastructure of propriety genetic material, synthetic and often dangerous chemicals, monocultures, long-distance transportation, factory-scale processing, wasteful packaging and energy sucking refrigeration. The food being produced by this system is destroying the earth, destroying our health, destroying our economic vitality, and robbing us of our dignity by breeding dependancy and reducing us to the subservient role of consumer. We need to cultivate a different set of relationships:  

Relationships with Plants and Animals

This is where our food comes from, plants and animals (with microbial assistance). We cannot continue to distance ourselves from the sources of our food, relegating it to highly specialised, mostly faraway, mass-production monocultures, cut off from our lives. Historically, by necessity, we related to the plants and animals we ate. We knew them, relied upon them, and through their pursuit and cultivation, we were intimately connected to our environment. We need to become reconnected to the sources of our sustenance. Get to know the plants around you. Grow some herbs or vegetables. Glean and use unharvested fruit. Plant a tree, or care for one, or many. Forage weeds from your yard. If you enjoy eggs, milk, or meat, consider exploring the path of raising chickens or other livestock on a small scale. Find a way to observe and participate in slaughtering and butchering. Respect, honour, and appreciate the life that goes into our food. We have coevolved with these other beings, and our fates are intertwined. 

Relationships with Farmers and Producers

Buy local food! Support local agriculture! Get to know farmers, and buy directly from them. Agricultural revitalisation is real economic stimulus and real economic security. Beyond the raw products of agriculture, most people enjoy foods and beverages that have been processed, whether its cheese, salami, or tempeh. Many of these "value-added" processes involve fermentation. Support small–scale local processing and production. It means fresher food, local jobs, decentralisation, and greater resilience in the face of change. Local Production includes not only commercial manufacturers but small informal production, shared through alternative economies such as gift exchange, barter, voluntary donations, herd-shares, community supported models, or illicit underground sales. Find a niche you can fill in the emergent web of food creators. 

Relationships with Ancestors

Our ancestors paid much more attention to their ancestors than people in our time typically do. We have our god, and canonise various historical or mythological hero's into icons, but in our time we have very little appreciation for the general continuous lineage itself. However mixed our heritage may be, we are, each of us, the spawn of ancient lineages, which have bestowed upon us incredible cultural legacies. We must remember, rediscover, and reclaim our ancestors, however we can, and honour, protect, and perpetuate their gifts, including tangible ones such as seeds and fermentation processes. Cultural revival is necessary in order to maintain their greatest legacy to us. Keeping it alive is the ultimate in ancestor worship.

Relationships with Mysteries

Mysteries endure. Despite all the impressive advances in microscopic imaging, genetic analysis, and other forms of scientific investigation, the realm of the microscopic is still very little understood. For that matter, so is much about our own bodies and minds. Let us honour the mysteries and revel in the fact that we will never understand everything. Relationships with community. 

Relationships with Community

Self-sufficiency is a dangerous myth. We need each other. Love your circle, cultivate it and enlarge it. Share food you grow or make with your community, and encourage others in their food production activities. Community is never perfect and takes hard work, because people have such varied visions, ideas and values. But do the hard work of finding common ground, and build community with the people around you. 

Relationships with Movements of Resistance

Our growing awareness as individuals, creating change in our own lives, and communities can (and must) build into galvanising social movements. While reviving local food systems we can also address inequitable access to resources by becoming part of existing movements for food justice and food sovereignty. While making use of indigenous wisdom in our cultural revival efforts, we can also acknowledge and act in solidarity with indigenous peoples struggling for survival. While trying to limit our own carbon footprints and environmental impact, we can also join social movements demanding the same of corporations and government policies. Personal actions can be powerful, but nothing like the force of collective action. 

Relationships with Materials

We must strive to maximise the use of whatever is abundant, easy, low impact and re-useable. We do not need infinitely more special equipment and gadgetry, we must interrupt the disposable society. Where feasible, scavenge materials to re-use them; process fibres from plants or animals; build a house from earthen materials. D.I.Y Culture! 

These are but a few strands of a densely interwoven web of relationships that can sustain and enrich us. Fermentation is one way in which we may consciously cultivate this web. This is the daily practice of cultural revival. By engaging life forces, we rediscover and reconnect with our context.