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Battle With Crohn’s Disease Leads To Fermented Food Success

The medical establishment is still discovering the health benefits of fermented foods, but some folks have known about them for a long time. As WebMD reported, studies show that fermented foods such as yogurt and kimchi can help keep blood sugar in check, fight obesity, and reduce your chances of high blood pressure. 

These and other health benefits will come as no surprise to Cori Deans, founder of Small Town Cultures, a Keene, NY-based maker of fermented foods. Deans launched the company in 2011 after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and told by doctors that she would likely be on meds for the rest of her life, “Forbes” reported.

Photo Courtesy Small Town Cultures 

“I was put on a diet that was low on fiber and a gnarly cocktail of immunosuppressant meds plus antibiotics and steroids,” she told “Forbes” in a 2022 interview. “None of it really was helping or made sense to me.”

That’s when Deans began researching her condition to find an alternative path to recovery.

During her research, she came across the book “Patient Heal Thyself” by Jordan Rubin, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 19 and sought a more natural, homeopathic way to deal with it.

Photo Courtesy Amazon

Deans followed the Rubin approach and changed her diet to include more whole foods, healthy fats, and fermented foods. Within months, she saw an improvement in her health and her outlook.

“I realized that many autoimmune diseases may be caused by the fact that we’re eating dead food,” she told “Forbes.” “Plus, our vegetables are coming from soils that are dead, which doesn’t help because they’re lacking in the good bacteria. Fermented foods, however, are the opposite of that. They’re full of life.”

Deans began eating store-bought fermented foods but found that many weren’t that appetizing, according to a profile from the U.S. Small Business Association. So, she started dabbling with her own recipes to kick the flavor profile up a notch.

Photo Courtesy Small Town Cultures 

The idea to launch her own business came after friends and family began praising her recipes. She started approaching local retailers to see if they wanted to sell her products. In 2018, she struck a deal with a regional distributor. Two years later, national grocery chain Whole Foods approached Deans to carry her company’s products in 40 of their locations — including their flagship store in Austin, TX.

As the SBA noted, the rapid growth of Small Town Cultures demanded that Deans hire more staff and buy more equipment.

“We were cutting onions by hand — 500 pounds of onions a day,” Deans said. “One of the hardest things about being a small business, especially if you’re growing quickly and have traction, are the opportunities you can’t execute on because you don’t have the funds.”

Expansion required capital, and Deans went in search of a business loan. She eventually learned about the Adirondack Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), an SBA microlender. According to the SBA profile, she was able to get a $10,000 loan and consulting services from the AEDC.

Photo Courtesy Adirondack Economic Development Corporation  

Today, Small Town Culture has carved out a niche in the health-food industry by producing ferments that it says are raw, rich in probiotics, unpasteurized, and contain no additives, preservatives, or added vinegar or sugar. According to the company website, they are also “full of micronutrients, enzymes, and prebiotic fiber” — all of which help reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

In addition, the company says its products are gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and keto-friendly, made and sold in “small batch” glass containers rather than plastic. Visitors to the company website will find recipes such as Kimchi Tacos, Fermented Probiotic-rich Cocktails, Fermented Red Onion, Watermelon, and Feta Salad or its “crowd-pleasing” Kimchi Dip.

Photo Courtesy Small Town Cultures 

As for Deans: She proclaims on the company website that she is “no longer sick” and “constantly wowed by the powerful unseen world of probiotic microbes. Small Town Cultures was born out of this experience. … Our goal is to make healthy plant-based ferments that you and your body will crave.” 

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