Fermentation has been used around the world for thousands of years to create countless safe, natural products that can be found in just about every corner of our daily lives. From rudimentary applications like making beer and bread, to creating rare ingredients for life-saving pharmaceuticals, fermentation has long been one of mankind’s most trusted production methods for its safety, sustainability, and predictability.
And while fermentation is one of the most studied and reliable processes in the world, scientists are constantly finding new, innovative ways to use this technique to make the world a better place.
A Brief History of Fermentation
Evidence of the first fermented beverages dates back to approximately 7,000 BC in Neolith China. And while fermentation quickly grew in popularity and found its way into different foods and beverages like wine, yogurt, and kimchi, it would be thousands of years before we’d actually understand how fermentation works.
In 1857, French microbiologist Louis Pasteur first identified the scientific foundation for how fermentation works. A leader in zymology, or the study of fermentation, Pasteur concluded that, “just as there is an alcoholic ferment, the yeast of beer, which is found everywhere that sugar is decomposed into alcohol and carbonic acid, so also there is a particular ferment, a lactic yeast, always present when sugar becomes lactic acid.”
It’s this basic understanding of the process of fermentation that allowed future generations of scientists to discover new, increasingly complex uses for this natural process of using microorganisms like yeast to produce new ingredients.
Fermentation in our Daily Lives
While fermentation has become part of our daily lives for its ability to produce food and drink that we consume every day – from wine and cheese, to pickles and sauerkraut – it also plays a key role in making some of nature’s rarest ingredients available for products that simply wouldn’t be possible without it.
A great example is infant formula. Many children rely on formula as either a part, or all of their diet. But one of the key ingredients in formula, human milk oligosaccharides, or HMOs, are not found anywhere in nature outside of mother’s milk. HMOs demonstrate benefits in the healthy growth and development of infants, so it’s a critical part of any child’s diet.
Fermentation makes it possible to produce HMOs at a global scale, providing safe, healthy ingredients that are used around the world in infant formula. It provides a sustainable, predictable, and cost-effective way to deliver massive quantities of what would otherwise be an impossible-to-find ingredient.
Fermentation also plays a key role in common medications that have had an incredible impact on the on global health, like the breakthrough antibiotic Penicillin. Fermentation allows drug companies to quickly and reliably produce Penicillin at incredibly high purity levels, providing affordable, ready access to the medication for millions of people around the world.
The Future of Fermentation
The team at Demetrix believes in the power of science to make the world a better place. We’re currently focused on using fermentation to unlock the potential of cannabinoids, the rare compounds found inside the cannabis and hemp plants. Fermentation allows us to access and study these ingredients which simply aren’t accessible through traditional agricultural methods. We believe these compounds have the ability to provide meaningful health and wellness benefits for millions of people and animals around the world in both pharmaceutical and consumer products.