Who is Behind Sauerkrautathon?
We are Katie Venner and Jo Webster, two gut health and fermented food activists from Somerset who love sharing our enthusiasm for fermented foods and our passion for gut health with anyone who will listen!
Between us, we’ve taught hundreds of people how to introduce simple fermented foods into their diets and shared the science behind why they are so good for us.
You can join us on one of our regular fermenting classes - with Jo in Wells or Katie just outside Wellington, Somerset.
After working with cultural organisations and in leadership development for 30 years Katie and her husband Gordon set up a micro-bakery in Somerset baking wood fired sourdough bread and pizzas. Working with volunteers from all over the World who came to live with them as WWOOFers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and as informal Apprentices they developed a popular Friday pizza night and a weekly Farmers’ Market in Wiveliscombe.
Katie started fermenting when a friend gave her ‘grains blessed by the Dalai Lama’ years before milk kefir was popular. Making sourdough bread led to fermenting vegetables and making Kombucha, and along with their three sons, the family got the taste for funky sour foods. Tracebridge has become a family affair with sons, WOOFers and apprentices making return visits for spells in the bakery and fermenteria. Teaching fermentation is Katie’s passion – encouraging people to experiment with exciting new flavours and sustainably grown UK grains and veg is part of the Tracebridge ethos.
Katie and Gordon are in the process of handing on the business to the next generation of bakers and fermenters and spent Winter 2018/19 in the South West of France looking after a friend’s Gascon farmhouse – with a large bread oven in it. They return to France this year and will be teaching fermentation and sourdough baking there alongside classes at Tracebridge.
Our health, or lack of it, defines to a great extent who we are – in obvious and in very subtle ways. It also influences the state of our immediate community and the state of our society as a whole. Health matters.
Being a mother to 4 awesome young people, I have learnt that taking responsibility for our own health is important. And having previously been a lawyer, I know that questioning the status quo when making health choices for ourselves is a good idea. I also understand, from first-hand experience of family life, just how challenging it can be to be the change we need to see in our lives!
Through the Wondergut fermenting classes I hold and the gut health talks I give, I get to do what I love - helping people to gather the information and experience they need to better support their health. We also have a great deal of fun along the way. Consuming fermented foods and drinks is just one of many simple things we can weave into our lives as we work towards better health.
I have been lucky to study fermentation with Sandor Katz and I like nothing better than experimenting in my kitchen with different ferments, especially when it also involves using medicinal herbs. As an extension of all of my independent study, I am taking an MSc in Nutritional Medicine with Surrey University, as well as training to be a Medical Herbalist with Betonica School of Herbal Medicine. I am seriously excited about the synergies between all these strands and the opportunities they continue to provide for me to do some good in the world.
Why we set out to make a Guinness World Record?
Vegetables don't have the marketing budget that big food manufacturers throw at processed foods. And vegetables don't damage our health in the way excessive amounts of highly processed foods do. We want to draw attention to how easy it is to pack a flavourful and healthy punch from a humble cabbage.
What better way to spread the word about the benefits of fermented foods than by setting the first ever Guinness World Record for the largest serving of sauerkraut.