James Cook sailed the world with sauerkraut to ward off scurvy.
Matt Morris, whose Christchurch company The Urban Monk produces six types of sauerkraut, agrees with Cook.
We can either consume food that is detrimental to our bodies or food that can actually rebuild them, he says.
“I really like that maxim ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.”
Morris started promoting local foods in 2012 as an experiment, before realising he wanted to focus on cultured foods, particularly sauerkrauts.
The Christchurch earthquakes were part of the impetus.
“After the earthquakes, there was this incredible sense down here that we could do a lot more to rebuild a localised food system – and I was very involved in that.”
Morris started looking for gaps in the food industry and found they were in processing.
“I thought I want to do something practical, something with my hands for a change - because I've been working at the university for a long time. It sort of all came together, and here we are.”
After lots of experimentation, he started selling The Urban Monk sauerkraut in 2015.
The name reflects a “slow, conscientious mindful approach” that he admires.
Four of Morris's sauerkrauts are cabbage-based and two are cabbage-less - a daikon one and a ginger and carrot one.
“A lot of people have said to me ‘I’m loving getting more cultured vegetables into my diet, but I’m getting a bit tired of cabbage.”
Morris likes exploring new ways to wrap sauerkraut into other foods.
“I love it in Vietnamese spring rolls, I love it in sushi – the daikon one is really good in sushi. It’s great in burgers… It’s quite versatile, actually.”
Christopher Musgrave’s recipe for curried cheesy pancakes with sauerkraut is gluten-free, can easily be made dairy-free and incredibly more-ish, Morris says.
“Throw in some avocado, I say. That’s always going to be good.”