Fermented foods have been around for thousands of years—it’s only in recent history that we’ve taken to pasteurizing and sanitizing everything, removing microbes from our plates and lives. Which is bad, as not only does fermentation produce delicious foods—leavened bread, certain types of cheese, pickled vegetables, wine, beer—it is also beneficial, improving digestion and helping the immune system. The modern world is so anti-bacteria that we have to replenish the essential, so-called ‘good’ bacteria that we need to be healthy.

Thankfully, we live in Portland, which has its own Fermentation Festival, an opportunity to taste and share fermented foods and drinks (from both professionals and home enthusiasts), get advice, and exchange cultures and recipes. Also lined up are fermentation demos from Claudia Lucero (author of One-Hour Cheese), Gabe Rosen (chef-owner of Biwa), Eric Finley (butcher-owner of Chop Butchery & Charcuterie), and educator Heidi Nestler. Reverend Nat's and Commons Brewery will be selling cider and beer and Bingo Sandwiches will provide sustenance.

There’s also a special pre-tasting event featuring a panel of fermentation experts, including Nat West of Reverend Nat’s, David Barber of Picklopolis, Eric Finley of Chop Butchery and Josh Grgas from Commons. It’s your chance to learn from the pros. Fifth Annual Portland Fermentation Festival, Ecotrust’s Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center, 721 NW 9th, October 16, 6 pm–9:30 pm, $10/$20 (children under 12 free), tickets available here