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Andrea Barbuto grows a Wild Culture through her local business

October 21, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“These are wild cultures of bacteria that are creating the fermenting process,” said Certified Nutritional Practitioner Andrea Barbuto. “I like to think I’m a little bit wild and I also use the wild plants in just some of my ferments. The wild things are different depending on the time of year. 

“It starts a conversation with customers about wild plants and their uses and benefits,” she added. “Not only should you not spray Round Up on them but you can eat them and they’re good for you.”

She began a list: “Dandelion, stinging nettle – the common plantain: a weed that is everywhere and garlic mustard; purslane is a succulent weed that is high in omega 3 which is very unusual in a plant. These are just some of my products.”

Stout glass jars house Ms. Barbuto’s products, wrapped in simple labels and containing simple ingredients with very good health benefits.

“They are all cabbage-based and I add different vegetables and plants,” she outlined, “nice and crunchy and a little sour.”

Asked how it was she came to this business, she replied, “It’s kind of everything in my past is in this jar. I became a Holistic Nutritionist and, then, studied and worked on organic vegetable farms. I worked in kitchens in restaurants and studied herbal medicine, as part of my training in school and on my own, just learning about wild plants. I’m wild plant obsessed. My little boy said one day, ‘I know what that is – golden-rod and it’s good for you.’

“Use the ariel parts, the leaves and whole plant,” she instructed, “just hang and dry, out of the sun. It’s good for your urinary tract, anyone who suffers UTI. It’s bitter so it’s best mixed with other things and you wouldn’t drink it all the time.” 

Ms. Barbuto said she went to the University of Toronto and did a degree in anthropology . “Then I travelled quite a bit. I worked for a tour operator and was lucky to help plan their Arctic program. 

“Travelling from Greenland across to the Arctic was quite an adventure. I was with them for a year. Then, I started travelling independently in South Africa, Madagascar. I was travelling with a friend who was an ornithologist. I’ve seen a lot of rare birds in Namibia.” 

It was during her journeys through Central America “when I started to notice what was happening to agriculture, the big industrial farms and the workers would go home and wouldn’t have enough money to buy food.

“When I came back to Canada, the only thing I wanted to do was organic farming. I worked on just a few main ones. They were doing biodynamic farming where they are just trying to use everything from the farm as established by Rudolf Steiner. I kind of just landed there. It’s farming beyond organic. Fiddle Foot Farm is done like that.”

She added, “In the middle of it all, I was living with my partner and I decided I wanted a child and then we got married. My husband is a photographer. He does corporate head shots, the interior of buildings, that sort of thing.”

She talked about her children – her son and later his sister, “My children play a lot. I shut the television off in the summer. They like riding their bikes and playing outside.”

At present, the Wild Culture products “sell in the farmers market, a couple of stores – Heather Lea farm and butcher shop and Common Good.”

The start of it all, “the moment when, I was actually just finishing school and was stressing out and I didn’t know what to do and I was fermenting when my son came in and he asked why our house always smells [different]? 

“I had all these jars that were open and fermenting and I thought I should be selling this.”

Wild Culture has come to the Orangeville Farmers’ Market every other week during the summer and Ms. Barbuto told the Citizen that she has applied to attend on some dates when the market moves into the Town Hall for the winter.

“When I decided to do, this – I always shop at this market and I love Orangeville and I decided I wanted to be there. I started the business in May 2019. I’m very friendly with the health department and I was totally up front. So, they’re very easy – they walked me through the whole process.”

The business, she was pleased to tell us, is “doing well; business is good but everything is up in the air right now in terms of getting into the winter market and I’m trying to expand into a few stores.

“I rent space [a commercial kitchen] at Riverdale Farm. The government people have come to inspect the kitchen there. I went to the Orangeville BIA. They’ve been so helpful as well. 

“I really like what I do,” she commented, “I have a lot of people come back to me to say these products have helped.”

If the ingredients are simple, so is the process that makes them ready. 

Here is how she explained it, “When you ferment, it creates beneficial pro-biotic that works with the bacteria. The salt draws the liquid out of the vegetables and those liquids are what the bacteria love. They start to eat and multiply and those are the beneficial bacteria. It’s very simple.

“Another thing,” she went on to explain, “a by-product of this process is lactic acid. It lowers the pH so the pH is so low that in the acidic environment, only the good bacteria can survive.

“Anybody can eat this,” was her assurance, “no matter what your diet is.” 

Doing all this primarily on her own, she did say, “My mom helps me. I’m really in the middle of where I want to be. My husband is my biggest cheerleader.”

What she wants people to understand is, “I feel like this more is than just a jar of vegetables. It will impact their health for the better. But there’s a greater purpose than all of it: the organic vegetables, the wild products that I use, I do to have an impact on the planet that is for the good.”

When we asked, off or on the record, she went on the record. 

“I’m voting Green,” she said.

For more information or to contact go to www.wildcultureferments.com



         

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