This is our first guest post from Forgetting, a frequent commenter here at Wheat and Tares.
Microbes are the most often overlooked aspect of the Word of Wisdom. Not only are microbes there in the spirit of the principle, but they are mentioned in the text both plainly and also somewhat obscurely. Fermentation is the product of microbial action in the form of yeast and bacterial communities. Ferments, or products of fermentation, are mentioned a total of five or six times in the Word of Wisdom, depending how you count things. The first and the last mentioned ferments are the most obvious, and are both recommended by the Lord: wine for our sacrament and mild barley and grain drinks, or as we commonly call it, beer. The other ferments, save one, we would say, have been placed on our ’thou shall not’ list. Setting wine aside for a bit, I would like to offer some thoughts about beer and the other ferments found in D&C 89.
Beer, in all of its forms and varieties, is one of the oldest and most common ferments found world wide. Not only was it used in ritual and ceremony historically, it has long been a staple of the human diet. The yeasts and particulate material found in healthy beer, meaning unfiltered or partially filtered beers that have not been pasteurized, are important to digestive health and have historically been an important source of daily nutritional intake. Fortunately, given the counsel of modern leaders, and the common understanding that the Word of Wisdom forbids all alcohol, these yeasts can be found in other sources. The particulate matter found in beer and wine however, is rich in nutrients and other elements which are harder, and ultimately less resource and cost effective, to obtain from other sources. It is unfortunate that we are not mature enough to maintain non-addictive, and healthy consumer attitudes towards some of the richer things in life, like beer. Our leaders’ counsel might be timely, but it hasn’t always been this way for us as a church community, and maybe someday we will be at the point again when some of these other recommendations of the Word of Wisdom can be possible. A good dose of hops, found in higher concentrations in ale, with its herbal properties that help calm and bring serenity, would do a lot of our brothers (and maybe sisters) good. I mean that in both a lighthearted and serious way. Hops really are an excellent treatment for depression, anxiety, dementia, and other trying burdens. Issues we face in increasing numbers in the Church community. It doesn’t have to be obtained from beer, hops as an herbal supplement is always an option, although some studies indicate that it is more readily absorbed into the body when found in beers and ciders.
Strong drink, the one alcohol in the text that the Lord directly forbids the drinking of, which makes excellent cleaner by the way, is distilled. All of its life and sustenance is removed. In this way it is and is not a ferment. It’s interesting, we have started doing a similar thing to our beers; pasteurization of beer is recent in historical terms. Sometimes the most obvious, intoxication, might not be the only reason the Lord, through the modern leaders, cautions us. Many beers (beer, stouts, ales, etc., the whole family) in production are really unhealthy: GMO grains, high fructose corn syrup and sugar alcohol added, yeast filtered, no nutrition. Beer was a large part of the nutritional intake for a lot of human history, sometimes it was vital. Maybe it isn’t only what we do with it, but what we have done to it. When it is produced and consumed this way there is no value in its consumption other than for our selfish pleasures.
Tobacco isn’t just a dried herb, but the curing process includes fermentation. It most likely has its ancient origins in the Andean region of South America, from where its cultivation and ritual use spread north and to the Pacific Islands and Australia. Like its cousin, the potato, (also likely originating from the Andes), it is a member of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Tobaccos are from the genus Nicotiana. From pre-contact times to the 1700s tobacco served primarily religious, ritual, and medicinal ends. Tobacco is not just smoked, though this is the most common method of ingestion, some tribes ferment tobacco juice, or mix ‘green’ tobacco juice with other fermented beverages. It is also rolled into wads and sucked or masticated slowly. A traditional, and respectful, gift or token offered to a tribal elder, shaman, or medicine person (most North American tribes prefer this term), would be a bundle or little bag of tobacco.
The most common form of tobacco use world wide today is cigarettes. The modern production methods for cigarette tobacco often short cut the fermentation process and then add chemicals to not only reproduce a ‘fermented’ quality, but also to give the cigarette smoking experience (extra nicotine and addictive chemicals for a ‘better high’).
Most teas come from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Fermentation can begin as early as the withering process (the only fermentation white tea experiences), and is often stopped by pan frying or steaming. The general rule is the darker the tea, the more fermentation the leaves have undergone. Green teas are very lightly fermented, while the slightly darker teas like Oolong and Ti-Kuan Yin are more heavily fermented. Black teas are fully fermented. Tea is used ritually and religiously through-out Asia, in a variety of settings, and with just as many purposes. Most westerners have heard of Japanese tea ceremonies or the Chinese Gong-Fu. Tea, like tobacco in the Americas, plays an important role in tribal life. Bricks, or blocks of compressed tea, travel well for nomadic cultures like those still found in Siberia and Mongolia, and in a similar way to tobacco in the west, a gift of a brick or small box of tea would be traditional, sometimes expected, when meeting elders or shamans.
The last ferment is harder to find, is allowed, and is consumed daily by nearly everyone. In relation to grain, the ‘staff of life’ is mentioned. This points our minds to bread, a baked ferment. This needs no explanation.
Outside of the ones mentioned in the Word of Wisdom, other forms of ferments also play important cultural and ritual roles. Here are a few other examples: Chicha, comes in two forms. It can be a modern version of the ancient Incan corn beer, or it is also a very different fermented beverage for tribes of the Amazon region of South America. For these tribes it is a fermented beverage made from manioc/cassava/yuca root, which is first chewed down to a pulp by the tribal women. Japanese Sake, which is used in Shinto purification rites and weddings, is a rice wine produced by a process more similar to brewing beer. Kimchee or kimchi (to please all crowds) is such an important part of Korean life that the first most wanted kitchen appliance is a kimchee refrigerator. There is of course Poi, which is also a ferment; that’s why Tutu likes it sour. Poi is made by pounding the root of the sacred Kalo (Taro) plant to a paste that is left to sit for a few days. Poi is not only used in ritual feasts or Luaus. It also has a sacred role in the most important ritual of all, the family meal.
In a special class of their own are three last ferments worth mentioning. Each is not only a product of fermentation used ritually, but each began as products of animal labor, and then were fermented. To Christians, these products can also contain additional symbolic values, as they are ferments produced from milk and honey. Mead, fermented honey and water, was often an important part of ritual observance in northern Europe. As Christianity replaced many of the old religions in this region, the ritual use of mead was slowly lost except for a few scattered hold-outs where it is still used in ritual today. Mead, in ritual, is often served in or tied to the symbol of the horn, something we saints might find interesting, given Christianity and Judaism’s symbolic use of the horn. In Siberia, Mongolia, and Central Asia there is Kumis or Airag, a fermented mares milk. In some Dharmic religions, and in particular Hinduism, yogurt sweetened with honey, or lassi, is also used in religious rituals. Lassi’s can also be found on the menu of your favorite Indian restaurant.
It all adds up to an interesting pattern, and in my mind increases the richness and beauty of the Word of Wisdom. Each of the ferments I have mentioned also are an integral part of sacred ritual in various cultures throughout the world, even ours. We use two ferments ritually in our church, three if you count the luau’s at the Polynesian Cultural Center; and I do, it is ritual, paid for or not. Like the allowed, but not allowed beer, for those products we have been warned against, it might not just be the effects of use without constraint that can be a concern, it also might not be what we are doing to ruin the purity of these items. Maybe there is something sacred about them, symbolically or literally; they are life and alive. Each of the ferments, from beer to yogurt and everything in between are the products and gifts of living organisms. We partake of the fruit of their labors; just like milk, just like honey. That is beautiful to me. I hope someday the counsel will be different, and we saints will be able, or is it willing, to partake of more of the ferments mentioned in the Word of Wisdom.
Now, let us talk about the last ferment and living community, wine, and then tie it all together. Maybe this will deepen our appreciation of the Sacrament, the Word of Wisdom, and the Temple.
Community, we are the Body of Christ. When we partake of the sacrament we are participating in a communal ritual. We no longer use wine, but we can still hold the imagery in our minds. As I mentioned earlier, the ordinance of the Sacrament contains not only one, but two ferments. Both the bread, in it’s leavening agent, and the wine are the products of fermentation. The yeast in the bread is killed during the baking process, creating a very interesting symbol itself.
The wine though, it is different. Wine of our own make, as the Word of Wisdom recommends, and specifically new wine as D&C 27 indicates we should use, will always have living yeast in some amount. It is still a living organism and community. The first fermentations are performed in large casks and then after this stage it is bottled. Modern wines, when they are bottled with aging in mind, are often treated before this stage so that the majority of the yeast growth is permanently retarded. Any further fermentation after being bottled could spoil the wine or break the bottle, thus corks (or not putting new wine into old skins). Generally though by this point, it is not a concern, the main stages of fermentation would be over and a majority of the yeast would already be inactive or dormant as the sugars have been consumed. As the wine ages it becomes more rich and complex (a bit like Elder Bednar’s spiritual traction), but the yeast becomes more inactive and eventually dies. The more aged the wine, the less living yeast it contains. This is a very simple explanation, the whole process is complex and thoroughly fascinating though, and worth exploring. New wine is different from aged wine, and despite all of the definitions we like to use, one thing would remain consistent — new wine is always a living community.
Today, throughout the world, new wine is still produced under different names and in various degrees of fermentations. Some varieties are even sold cold in plastic bottles that are very similar to soda bottles with very low alcohol content. However, from the moment the grapes are crushed and the sugars released to make contact with all of the yeast living on the skin of the grape, fermentation begins, so even fresh crushed grape juice would technically (barely) be included in as new wine. It’s not only the alcohol in the wine that we should point to as the thing that sets it apart. We should also appreciate the life that is producing the fermentation. Fermentation can be seen as a symbol of the Spirit, sanctification, and preservation; the product is always greater than the component elements.
These yeasts, or cultures, are a community. You might have heard it said that when we partake of the bread it is the Body of Christ partaking of the body of Christ; mirrored back to us so to say. This image is more correct than most know. In the symbols of the bread and wine we can probe deeper and see the leaven and fermenting organisms as a community or body. When we partake of the bread, or the wine, we are having our community mirrored back to us in those very symbols. Each of the sacramental prayers are different in some very important ways. The differences in these prayers are also symbolically represented in these communities of yeast. In the bread, the yeast is dead, not only representing the death of Christ, but also corresponding to the nature of the first sacramental prayer. As we compare the two prayers, there is a beautiful promise given to us as we participate in both. The sacrament is a mercy and grace. The bread can point our minds to the law. Likewise the wine, or as we say of ours — living water (just as the wine is alive), to mercy and Spirit. We are taught that the law should be dead to us, and in the bread the yeast is dead. We are taught to live in the Spirit, and that is the final promise given to us, “Despite all you will do, you are weak and will still have faults. I know you can’t live up to all of these commandments. Remember me, my Spirit will be with you still.” It is a promise of life, just as the wine is alive.
Let us now add one last layer of images, this time from the temple. As we progress through the endowment we are given tokens and taught signs in relation to our covenants. One additional meaning can be added to these signs. I will let you see if you can perceive this, maybe you will. Progressing through the signs: a broken or incomplete cup or vessel, a broken or incomplete cup or vessel, something else (I will set your mind a riddle), and then ultimately a complete cup or vessel. There are then gestures indicating an invitation for that vessel to be filled. Again, just one way to see this. At the prayer circle we also participate in this imagery. An additional way to see the circle is as a community cup or vessel, and as a community we invite it to be filled, or maybe we are being invited to be filled. An individual and communal cup, reflecting back to us the image of our Sacrament: the individual and communal cup, a promise and invitation of the Spirit. Just like the Sacrament.
Fascinating. I think I’ll have to read this a few times to take everything in.
My grandfather suffered from pernicious anaemia and in addition to regular injections his doctor prescribed a daily half pint of guiness.
As a teenager my mother made me take brewers yeast tablets for about a year.
My other grandfather always made his own yoghurt, as did my mother, using cultures bought in tiny bottles from the local health food shop. I love yoghurt, though I don’t actually make it myself, but I do eat live yoghurts.
As a family we like herbal teas, but I don’t know about the fermentation of those products.
Like Hedgehog, I’ll also have to read this more deeply to take it all in.
But one thing i was struck by a few weeks ago was a discussion I was in with a non-Mormon where the non-Mormon pointed out that eschewing alcohol (as we so do) is in some sense eschewing civilization and society itself…that civilization itself arose and evolved with fermentation, so to not appreciate and study the products of fermentation is in some ways anti-social.
Andrew S – Interesting observation on not appreciating and studying the productions of fermentation being anti-social. Just another way we, as Latter-day Saints, are “in the world” but “not of the world”.
Very interesting perspective. Like Hedgehog, I think I’ll need to read it more than once!
I think this was well-written and insightful. HOWEVER. The author has fallen into the age old Mormon beer goggles trap. We focus WAY TOO MUCH on alcohol and tobacco in the WoW. If you drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, or have a cup of coffee in the morning…you are deemed unworthy to enter the temple. Correct? However. If you are unhealthy and overweight, eat HAMBURGERS with the bishopric at the SUMMER 24th of July ward picnic before the ward temple night, that’s totally ok and you are worthy. It was never meant to be a commandment because the WoW is far too subjectively judged by bishops in the church. Nowhere in the article was the horrible effects of sugar in our society. If the word of wisdom is a code of health and most of us eat too much food and sugar…are we worthy of the temple????? I say rather than try to pick apart the alcohol and tobacco part WofW and dissect it to make sense….how about we focus our energy on either “decriminalizing” the WofW or focus on strict application of ALL of the WofW. The WofW was never “meant be way of commandment” FOR A REASON. It has become the pharisees and sadducees law Christ openly fought against.
Bottom line. If ….in order to gain the eternal blessings of the temple…or watch a child get married in the temple…you need to live the WofW (among other things) then the WoW needs to applied equally among all of us. I hate watching my very overweight unhealthy (due to overeating and sweets – not some hypothyroid excuse) father go to the temple every week with my mom and feel worthy…. give me crap as well as church leaders because I love my iced caramel macchiato for Starbucks. You can’t have it both ways.
If you believe that this was a revelation for God then we need to NOT change the Lord’s revelation that explicitly states IT IS NOT MEANT BY WAY OF COMMANDMENT. WE shut out otherwise worthy individuals from temple blessings when others are allowed who are breaking the same (non) “commandment”.
Just my humble opinion. Thoughts?
I think, Randy, that you maybe didn’t read carefully enough.
Loved the post, forgetting. It opened up a whole new world of symbolism to me that I had been missing. I think that our correlated interpretation of the WoW is real proof that the current church is currently living a lesser law, and that there indeed exist higher laws regarding the WoW which are currently off-limits to Mormons. How do we deal with this fact? Do we complain about it like Randy does, pointing out the irony of having a WoW that doesn’t address obesity and fast food?
I think we have to understand that the WoW, as it is currently practiced by the church, is NOT a code of health, but a code of obedience. You can drink 10 liters of coke a day and still be perfectly worthy to go to the temple, but drink one drop of coffee, and you are unworthy.
Like forgetting, I look forward to the day when we could graduate to the higher law articulated in the original WoW, but I don’t know if we are ready for it, or if I am ready for it, as the hops forgetting recommendes might turn me and many of my other fellow Mormons into alcoholics, since our culture has not really learned enough about moderation yet.
I appreciate the comments and feed back, thanks.
If I was guessing I would say that the Guinness was for its high soluble iron, niacin, and other b vitamins. The shots were b12? Stouts and Porters usually contain the most soluble iron.
I actually do make my own yogurt, and sour cream. When I am feeling really motivated I will make an extra batch of yogurt to strain into cream cheese. I use plain yogurt (or sour cream) as a starter, and just set some aside out of each for the next time. My favorite is a culture strain from Australia via Colorado called Noosa (brand name). I know the little bottles you are talking about, I had never thought about using those, that's a good idea.
Andrew S and christinemb:
Speaking in the context of ritual during the fermentation process, ritual use of ferments, and social consumption with ritual like behaviors, I once had a professor say: to the degree we remove ourselves from fermentation, we remove ourselves from the community. I hear echoes of that in what Andrew says about eschewing alcohol and therefor society and civilization. In our zeal, it might be that we not only built hedges around the law, but we find these hedges now separate us from the community we are not only called to be, but in some actual way, meant to be the leavening of.
It is my experience and observation that members of the church mistake community for the world (being the in the world, not of the world world)
As a boggling side thought, for a church that loves our food storage, we also have moved completely away from fermentation as an acceptable form of food preservation.
I think you misunderstood the intent of the post. To the extent I talked about the thou shalt nots of the Word of Wisdom, it was only a side note to the fact that they are all products of fermentation. I agree with several of the thoughts you shared, especially the first thought you had regarding how Mormons focus too much on alcohol and tobacco when they talk about the Word of Wisdom. There are a couple of sites that take a different approach to the principle. You might enjoy some of the work done by Jane Birch. Her website and book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom, speak to some of the concerns you have.
Thanks, you articulated very well some of the concerns I have. Self-control through abstinence is easier to teach and allows us to have bright vivid lines of demarcation. Self-control through moderation is more difficult to teach, and I am not sure the church is in a place where it can do this. You are probably right when you suggest that turning the saints loose on beer is likely to have negative effects. Is there a way to first teach moderation without making allowance for consumption?
My thought is as long as we continue to practice it as a code of obedience it is unlikely that we will unlock the promised blessings, not only the blessings of health, but the blessings relating to the Spirit and the promise of revelation.
This was a fantastic post, forgetting. Very insightful and well-organized. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I thank you.
I absolutely agree that the current interpretation of the WofW is a living of a “lesser” law. We are given very defined lists of a few things that are “against our code of health”, even though there are very well-defined health benefits to using some of them in moderation (ie. tea, coffee, red wine, etc.) Yet, regardless of what the actual text of D&C 89 states, we can be as unhealthy as we want if we don’t avoid the “big four”.
A much higher law is in Buddhism, for example, in its precept to “Avoid Intoxication”. Some Buddhists avoid alcohol all together. Some might have a glass of wine but avoid getting drunk. Some avoid caffeine and other stimulants as “intoxicating”. The important thing is that each person’s adherence to the principle is unique to their own situation. They are forced to evaluate what it means for them.
But, we need something to make us “a peculiar people”.
Great post, BTW.
As a people, we are very much into the Don’t’s of the WoW without paying much attention to the Do’s contained in those verses. Much like the OT, some of the things are a relict of less scientific knowledge but good ol’ country know how.
I don’t feel particularly deprived of some of those things because, at one time, I was free to partake in all of them. Drinking alcohol was never that important and coffee and tea was a take it or leave. And smoking was always abhorrent to me.
The world has make those things idols in a way and that does have influence on some Church members as did the golden calf to some Israelites.
Whether its a higher law, a lesser law makes little difference to me. I’d rather see us discuss the blessing for obedience to the whole law, health and otherwise.
forgetting: Excellent post. Lots to think about. I admit to not knowing too much about fermentation, but I had thought about that common denominator in the WoW prohibitions before – I didn’t think about it with regard to bread, though, and the sacrament & temple. Very interesting thinking. Well done.
Nate: “since our culture has not really learned enough about moderation yet.” Not like we’re exactly on track to learn moderation either. Abstinence doesn’t teach responsibility; it only prevents irresponsibility.
If anything, abstinence actually encourages binging due to the attraction of the “forbidden fruit.” There are some “inoculation” parallels here between the straight-arrow LDS kid who becomes the biggest drunk in his college fraternity and the Utah-raised Bubble-sheltered member who reads that Joseph Smith used a seer stone and had plural wives and suddenly buys everything the Tanners ever wrote, hook, line and sinker.
I am pretty sure that we are living the lesser portion of this principle as well, the text even indicates that it is given in such a way that even the weakest will be able to obtain some part of its promises, and it is natural for us to be satisfied with participating at the weakest level, it’s easier. What has been left unsaid, but is more than implied, is that we are free to stretch and test ourselves against it, especially as we receive guidance from the Spirit, which is one of its promises. It is easier to abstain and claim righteousness when others are looking (because you are right, we need things that make us peculiar), but it is much harder when it is something private and only you and the Lord know. I think the language is there in the text, and written in a way that actually encourages us (the words pleasing and good are used) to live it in a manner similar to the way Buddhists practice avoiding intoxication, by applying it uniquely to our individual situations.
I agree, I would rather talk about the blessings, but like I mentioned above to Nate, it is unlikely that we saints will obtain a fullness of the blessings being offered, health or otherwise; not as long as we continue to use it as a standard of righteousness (lower law) instead of a source of wisdom. I have had opportunity to prove its promises, and although much of the health and healing that it offers is so intertwined with the temple that it is hard, likely impossible, to pick them apart, what the Word of Wisdom promises is real. I can only speak from my experiences, but I had to let go of it being that standard of righteousness that (among other things) got me into the temple, and I had to practice it with as much mindfulness and consideration as Mike’s Buddhists observe the precept of “Avoid Intoxication” before I began receiving consistent healing. When I did though, the healing was dramatic, and since it did the impossible – miraculous. It is also difficult to talk about the healing that the Word of Wisdom offers without talking about some of its other promises, especially revelation. They (temple, healing, revelation, the Word of Wisdom) are all one large gordian knot in my mind.
I am curious what you mean by the whole law?
hawkgrrrl & New Iconoclast:
Regarding abstinence, ditto to both of your thoughts. Ditto, ditto. Although the Word of Wisdom is most often seen as a principle of temporal salvation, the habits of moderation it could teach us would be applicable to both temporal and spiritual salvation. A better practice of moderation could help us understand and then teach modesty in a healthier way.
My gratitude again for the kind replies.
forgetting, I believe it was B12 injections, but I was never told the reasoning behind the Guiness. Your suggestions sound plausible though. I haven’t come across Noosa yoghurt in Britain, mostly Danone, Muller and Onken, but also smaller national brands like Yeo Valley. There are also Indian style yoghurts described as lassi, and the Japanese Yakult drinks from fermented skimmed milk here. Yoghurts seem to be subjected to fashions and the most popular at the moment are described as Greek style.
On a wholly tangential note (if even that), I was listening to a radio programme briefly, talking about butchery. They were interviewing some of the butchers from Smithfield market in London. One of the things that came up was the difference between French and English butchers, dividing a carcase into different cuts of meat. The difference seemed to be that the French butchers were more intuitive, would follow the lines dictated by the carcase, the muscles etc, and the finished cuts would have a certain elegance to them, whereas the English butcher (they said Anglo-Saxon) just picks up a hacksaw and makes a cut in the designated spot, without close reference to the individual carcase. So, it occurred to me that so far as the word of wisdom is concerned (and probably a lot of other things),as an institution the church tends to take the Anglo-Saxon approach, as opposed to the more intuitive approach. Anyway, I heard the programme after reading your post, so it was in my mind at the time.
Guinness doesn’t have any B12. It is one of the few B vitamins that isn’t found naturally in beer. That’s was the only reason I guessed B12 on the shots.
I knew about the differences in butchering, but I had never thought to apply that line of thought to church culture. You pretty much nailed it. (I was once told I was as crude as an English Butcher over some cuts of meat I had done; of course the first chef I trained under was English, so what did he expect?)
It was a couple weeks before this post that I mentioned to another member (we are both good members of the Church) that the Word of Wisdom would not be practiced in Heaven (Heaven being the Celestial Kingdom). The reason I said that is 1) I like to say things to get a “rise” out of others, and 2) when you think about it, since we will have immortal bodies after the resurrection, then we can consume even cyanide without ill-effect (maybe). Actually, my original 2) was the thinking that beer and wine seem to be one of those enjoyable and social drinks that why would not even the gods enjoy it, therefore, it must be a temporary law just like pork was.
As one person mentioned earlier, our current interpretation seems to be a “lesser” law and that’s OK with me. I follow the council of the Brethren regardless of my crazy thinking. Chances are they are more often right than I am.
hoggbegone = hoffbegone (auto-fill is a pain sometimes)
My favorite ferment is kombucha–I’ve been making it for years. My church friends don’t quite know what to think about it. It is tea but it is fermented, so it’s not a ‘hot drink’, and it does have a trace of alcohol. However, it’s not specifically proscribed by section 89 so I drink it openly around other members
Thanks for mentioning kombucha. Yeah, most members don't know what think or how act towards it. I had left it out wanting to see if anyone would bring it up. We have a kombucha mother resting in the fridge now.
Ritual use of kombucha has an interesting history. Not only was it used (and is used) in ritual and medicine in China and other parts of Asia, it has gained ritual and ritual-like uses in modern cultures. For example, the hippy, yogi, new age, and alternative health cultures of the 60's and 70's. It has made a popular comeback in recent years as natural foods and alternative medicines have become more recognized and mainstream.
When people start to ferment kombucha (or any home ferment really), they express it naturally as their weekly or monthly 'kombucha ritual'. They also express attachment to the mother, and some even talk to it like a houseplant or pet. For some people, this is the closest they ever come to participation in food production other than cooking and consumption, and yet they find they have a natural attachment to the process and organisms similar to what gardeners and farmers experience. Some also report that making kombucha, the process or ritual, relieves or lowers stress.
Kombucha is one of my favorite ferments as it is twice, twice fermented. First the tea (plant), and then the tea (beverage). The mother, or the mushroom like organism that floats on the top of the brew, is a SCOBY, or a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. So, fermented with both yeast and bacteria. Other ferments that use a scoby include kefir, sourdough, ginger beer (the same ginger bug can be used to turn fruit juices into homemade sodas, and that makes for a couple of fun FHE activities), and vinegar.
If anyone wants to try, kombucha can be made with herbal teas as well, just avoid herbs that contain volatile oils like chamomile, mints, sages, evergreens (rosemary, juniper berries), ginger, or peppers. Volatile oils have anti-microbial properties and can prevent fermentation. Rooibos, an herb works well. The alcohol content is similar to a glass of fruit juice, slightly more with a longer fermentation period.
I suppose it’s been for mine own good, both spiritual and temporal, to ‘go back on the wagon’ (my beloved ‘Snips’, as she has struggled in the past with the drink, was insistent that I dry up). I do miss having a cold one (with mine revised GI tract, the effects of an “Arrogant Bastard Ale” or “Double Daddy IPA” are INTERESTING, to say the least), but as the fictional Hawkeye Pierece remarks when he’s gone a whole week w/o the product of his still in the “Swamp”…”I’ll have a drink when I WANT one, not when I NEED one”.
All these variations on items that may or may not have addictive properties, as long as you comply with the letter (which I hadn’t for some time) of the “law”, let the Spirit and your own good judgement dictate, and let no man judge it one way or the other. As the late Bruce R. McConkie said, “Some become unstable cranks….the Word of Wisdom is NOT the Gospel, and the Gospel is NOT the Word of Wisdom”. And I doubt old Bruce ever bent any rules in his day.
Thank you for such an intriguing post and discussion. Wonderful. I think perhaps the W of W is to help us think about the symbolic nature if fermentation and how to keep it more pure spiritually. I mean this as an addition to comments made, nit a challenge- I thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s points.