So you’ve cleaned the cobwebs and swept the floors. You’ve hauled trash bags of who-knows-what to Goodwill and turned a blind eye to dusty, long forgotten boxes after muttering, “maybe next year.” Or maybe you’re like me and have only gotten as far as daydreaming about the romantic spring cleaning that you toy with every year. Contrary to popular belief, spring cleaning doesn’t have to entail a myriad of various chemical cleaning products–it can start right in your fridge.

Fermented foods rich in probiotics are a great way to clean out your gut, and promote the growth of healthy bacteria who aid in increased metabolism, higher vitamin absorption, increased immunity, and help with digestion. While the American diet is rather lacking in many traditional fermented foods, you would be surprised by how many you can find in your local grocery store. So print out this list and take it along next time you go shopping!

1. Yogurt or Kefir

I’m not talking about Yoplait, folks. I’m talking tangy, sweet, European-style yogurt. At least, that’s what it always seems to be called in conventional grocery stores. This stuff is packed with live probiotics and is rich in calcium and protein. Just make sure it’s organic!

2. Miso Paste

Dark or light, miso paste is up there with hot sauce as versatile condiments go. Seriously, you can put it in anything; salad dressings, fake cheese sauces, fish marinades, soups, I even add it to veggie stir-frys. Miso paste is also a great source of iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.

3. Raw Milk and Cheese

Okay so you might not be able to find this in most grocery stores, but I have had luck at most farmer’s markets and co-ops. Not only do raw milks and cheeses taste incredible, but they strengthen your immune system and help prevent against allergies. Additionally, since they haven’t been pasteurized to high temperatures, raw milk contains higher levels of natural vitamins and minerals than conventional brands that have undergone pasteurization.

4. Kimchi

I’ve found this Korean dish readily available at most grocery stores. It’s traditionally made with cabbage, but I’ve also seen versions ranging in a rainbow of veggies. Spicy and tangy, kimchi is awesome over rice, mixed into salads and soups, or by itself as a snack. Low-calorie and high in vitamin C and A, I always make sure to have a jar of kimchi around.

5. Kombucha

Last but certainly not least, no list of fermented foods is complete without good ‘ol ‘buch. This effervescent drink is popular for a reason. Packed with B vitamins, kombucha is hailed by vegetarians and vegans everywhere as the tasty beverage that increases immunity and metabolism, all while promoting a healthy gut.

This list merely scratches the surface of the fermented food world, but sadly it does cover most of the options that you can easily find at your local grocery store. Good luck in your search for fermented goods; now go clean out that gut!

About the Author

Born and raised in Oakland, California, Olivia Greenfield spent her childhood cooking traditional Jewish recipes with her mothers. As a teen she discovered the Bay Area restaurant scene and began building an interest in locally sourced, seasonal fare. Amidst this blossoming love of a shared table, she decided to go vegan and soon taught herself how to cook healthy meals on the cheap side. As she began to get more active in her school’s environmental club, her initial curiosity into the food world eventually transformed into a full blown obsession.

Not wanting to leave her beloved west coast behind, she traveled north to attend The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  Her thirst for knowledge of all food systems brought her to study traditional food culture in France, where she completed a field research study in Norman cheeses, worked on a porc noir farm, prepared three course dinners for a yoga retreat center, and cooked with locals as she toured the Spanish coasts. Olivia is now putting her BA/BS degree in Food Science and Policy on hold to live and work in Seattle. She still bakes bread in her spare time. For more articles by Olivia, click here!