HHS 18 | Fermented Food

 

Sick children are usually brought to pediatricians. But not for Dr. Yasmine Mason, chiropractor and owner of Fermentation Farm. She was instead brought to a chiropractor when she had asthma and breathing issues. This influenced her to be a chiropractor herself. Dr. Mason shares her experiences in chiropractic school, being a mom, and how she came to put up Fermentation Farm. She also talks about achieving health and wellness without going the medical route as well as healing yourself with food and supplements.

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Doctor Mom And Fermented Food Queen Yasmine Mason

I want to introduce you all to Dr. Yasmine Mason, who is in California. She has a very unique story that I’m going to ask for her to tell us about why she decided to become a doctor of chiropractic. Then from there as a mother and wife to another chiropractor, she decides to open up a retail shop for fermented foods. Dr. Yas, take it away. Tell us a little bit about your story.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m honored to be here on your podcast. My story is that I am a chiropractor and I went to Palmer West in San Jose. I decided to go to chiropractic school because I had a myriad of health issues when I was a child, a lot of asthma and breathing issues. When I was nineteen, I had a couple of allergy attack. I lived in Vegas where it was dry and I had a lot of allergies with the dust and the wind. I started seeing a chiropractor and he helped me so much. He helped me get off Sudafed that I was taking for a long period of time. That’s the only thing my mom needed to give me. When my allergies were out of control, she’s controlling it that way. That’s all she needed to do. When I met this chiropractor and started going to him, he changed my life. It was eye-opening to me that you could have health and wellness without going the medical route or taking medications and healing yourself with supplements and foods.

What most people are doing is they’ve got these health issues, their children have health issues and they go to the pediatrician. Are you going to the pediatrician at this time? How does someone introduce you to a chiropractor? Most people think that chiropractors are for headaches and neck and back pain. When people say, “I’m going to go see a chiropractor for allergies and asthma,” most people would question you. How do you jump from the pediatrician to the doctor of chiropractic?

My parents never took us to the pediatrician. We were never sick. I grew up on a farm. We raise our own animals and grew all of our own vegetables. We were healthy kids. We never got sick other than a little cold or flu here and there, but my parents never took us to the doctor. I never remember going to the pediatrician for the colds and flu antibiotics and things like that. That was nonexistent. I took over-the-counter Sudafed when I was probably from age twelve when the allergies were getting bad from the wind and the dust. I was sneezing all the time and had sinuses stuffed all the time. It stems back from my underlying immune system, but that a whole other thing. I was taking over-the-counter Sudafed. She could get at the grocery store. She can get that for me, and then I would take that. I was working at the Luxor Hotel when it first opened and we had our culinary insurance. On my insurance plan, I had chiropractic care so I thought, “I’m going to see this guy.” He was on my list and my sister had gone to him a few times and he did a lot more than adjustments for neck pain and back pain. He did a lot of nutritional supplementation and a lot of discussing about diet. That’s why I went to him and he’s the one that helped me turn my health around.

It sounds like a fortuitous thing because in my opinion, everybody should go see a doctor of chiropractic for their primary care doctor. There’s certainly a lot of doctors of chiropractic that all they do is adjust and that’s the founding principles of chiropractic from over a hundred years ago. There are a lot of doctors now that are functional chiropractors. They do a lot more than adjust. They get more into evidence-based supplements or talking about lifestyle. In a lot of ways, you were fortunate because now you feel better after going to the chiropractor and then you decide you’re going to go to chiropractic school.

I took all my prerequisites. I was going to UNLV at the time. I switched majors to science and then I finished all my science prerequisites. I was a linguistics major. I don’t have many science classes so to fulfill all of the classes I needed to go to Palmer West in San Jose. I completed all of those over the course of a couple of years and then I went to Chiropractic school in October of ‘96 is when I started school.

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You’re way too young. That’s impossible. I’m caught up on this whole thing is that you talked about growing up on a farm in Las Vegas. Where is this mythical farm in Las Vegas that you talk of?

I lived in a small town about 60 miles from Las Vegas. That’s where I grew up. That’s where I went to elementary, junior high and high school, a small town called Pahrump, Nevada and it’s about an hour away from Las Vegas. Then when I graduated from high school, I went to UNLV. I lived in Vegas at that time. That’s when I met my chiropractor, Dr. Tim Francis, who is the chiropractor that showed me the way.

I’ve got family that lives in Vegas and I’m not sure of any farms that are around there. I totally get what you’re saying. Vegas to me is like living on the moon with no insult to the people in Vegas. It’s reality. You were talking about the town of Pahrump and what you had there. Kudos to your parents for keeping you out of the medical system. Unfortunately, the world is such a polluted place. Not especially in Nevada, but I spent many years in Arizona in the desert. Allergies and asthma and breathing problems are so bad there. First and foremost, because of the pollution that’s there and because of agriculture and the pesticides and the chemicals, none of this stuff is native to a desert landscape. Now, you’re at Palmer West and you’re excelling over there and you’re loving what you’re doing and then you’re a freshly minted chiropractor. When do you wind up in a California?

We graduated in December of 1999. Derek and I got married. We met there in school. Then we got married before we graduated and then we did our internship and decided to come back to California for our internship. We found two doctors in Nevada. We thought maybe we’d start our practice there. We knew a lot of people there. He’s from Santa Barbara. We weren’t sure where to go. We just found two doctors, did our internship and checked it out there for a little while. For three months, we were there to see what Nevada or Las Vegas had to offer and then after three months, we decided to come back to Southern California. We’re looking somewhere to practice between Santa Barbara and San Diego, a nicer climate and we saw ourselves liking the California area much better. We found somewhere we can both practice. There was a doctor of chiropractic that had retired not long before and had a large office where we both go in and start our practice. We did that. We started our practice there in May of 2000 and practiced there for years and then moved to our own facility in Newport Beach and we’d been there ever since. For fifteen years we’ve been at that location. We’ve been in practice for eighteen years total.

Why do so many couples get together in chiropractic school? My wife survived chiropractic school without getting married. Thanks to whoever made it all happen, whoever put it all together that Heather and I got together, a cardiologist and the chiropractor. Why are there so many marriages that blossom from chiropractic school?

It’s the sheer number of times you spend together studying. It’s 60 hours a week of homework and studying and groups of people with like interests. It stems from there because we do have friends that were married from other classes from our school too, so I know that’s super common.

HHS 18 | Fermented Food

Fermented Food: So many marriages that blossom from chiropractic school because of the sheer number of time you spend together studying with groups of people with like interests.

 

You were staring across the cadaver lab at Derek or maybe you were adjusting Derek and you’re like, “Maybe I could marry this guy.” Is that what happened?

It was more over time. More than just one little ogle over dissecting some heart or something. It’s the common interests and the sheer amount of time that you spend with your classmates. You spend so much time with our best friends that we went to school with over twenty years ago and started chiropractic school with them and we’re such close friends. We see them as much as possible even though they live all over the country and some in Canada. We try to see our friends that we have this bond with. When you go through a program like that, you have a bond with people and somehow sometimes you find a spouse out of it too, which is great.

There’s such a brotherhood, sisterhood amongst holistic people and people that are into health and wellness, not like where I came from, which was the sickness model but the healthcare model. You’re bonding over those mutual interests and I’m sure that played a large part. To refresh everybody here, I’m talking with Dr. Yasmin Mason and she is a doctor of Chiropractic, so is her husband. Her husband has a very busy practice in the Costa Mesa, Newport Beach area of California. While Dr. Yas is a successful chiropractor and she’s a mother, then she decides she’s going to open up a place called Fermentation Farm. It’s one of my favorite places in the world to go visit. They can talk about, “Let’s go to the Grand Canyon. Let’s go on a trip to Italy.” Fermentation Farm is a beacon of health and wellness in the Orange County area. People travel from all over, but certainly, from the Los Angeles greater area to come down to your place because it’s so unique and every time I’m there, it’s jam-packed full of people getting the best food on the planet and also the best camaraderie. It’s about people that do get it, that people are bonding in their own tribe. You look across the Kombucha area and you’re like, “That person gets it as well.” I feel a sense of spirituality, if you will, at Fermentation Farm. Fermentation Farm, how does that come to be?

As you said, I am a mother of two. Derek and I, we’ve worked and built our practice for about seven years, then we had to stop for a minute and say, “Are we going to have some kids here or are we just going to work and work and not ever have any kids?” We had to make a conscious effort. We’re both in the practice and we’re both working side by side every day. We have to make a little bit of a conscious effort. If we’re going to have these kids, I’m going to stay home with them. It’s not having children and then having someone else take care of them. My mom stayed home with us and raised us because my dad was a busy chef. The life of a chef is crazy.

I saw my dad about a day and a half a week for my entire life because he worked twin shifts in Las Vegas and working in the gourmet room in the casino. It’s a grueling schedule. It’s an hour drive there and an hour drive back and he would work 3:00 to 11:00. He would leave before we would get home from school and he would get home after we were already asleep. He has Sundays and Mondays off. We saw him on Sundays and we saw on Mondays after 3:00 when we got home from school. That life is crazy. Since my dad was not super present, my mom was home with us, which was great. That was what I wanted to do for my kids too. I wanted to be home with them. When they’re in preschool, I want to go in their preschool.

I was envisioning how this motherhood was going to go and I was lucky enough to be able to stay home for about eight years with them. Brent is now twelve and Dax is ten, so they’re in school. When Dax went to kindergarten about four years ago, I decided to open Fermentation Farm because my kitchen was overrun with fermenting crocks of vegetables and bone broth and fermenting yogurt. I’m making tons of Kombucha. I was making this for our patients that had digestive issues. I started reading Sandor Katz’ books and going on his website. A few years ago, there was only that. That was all I could find by way of learning about fermentation with what Sandor Katz had put out there. He’s an amazing man and has done a ton for this little industry of fermentation and learning how to do fermentation at home.

People have good reaction or benefit from incorporating fermented foods into their diet. Click To Tweet

I did it at home. It was great. I told all my patients, “I can make these for you but my kitchen’s getting full of all this stuff.” More and more people were asking for these things at my kid’s preschool, they’re like, “We heard you make Kombucha. Can we get them? Can we have some of that and fermented yogurt?” I start making more and more of it. At one point, Derek and I looked at each other. I’m like, “I can’t even make dinner in my own kitchen now. I have so many crocks and things fermenting away that there wasn’t a lot of room for me to make dinner for our family. Across the street from the kids’ school, there was a little pizza place, a little tiny commercial kitchen and they made pizzas out of there. It went out of business and closed down. It was about 800 square feet. I thought, “What if I move everything there? That would be perfect.”

It’s right across the street from the school and I can set up some tables here. Maybe once a week I’ll have a class and people can come here and learn how to make their own fermentation so I don’t have to ferment for everybody. That was my thing. I thought, “This is so great. I love fermenting at home. It’s so fun. A lot of people would think that’s fun.” I wanted to have a little shop where people could come and buy it if they didn’t want to make it and if they wanted to learn how to make it, I’d be there to show them. That’s basically what happened and it stemmed into this huge business in this super busy place that lots of people love to come and it’s very rewarding.

It’s such a great story. You had the head start. Your father, as you said, is a chef and you’re doing the fermentation at home. I’m going to assume you recognized early on the benefits of fermented foods, some of the early readings that you did that you encountered and how important that is for the children’s gut health and for adult health as well. Maybe tell us about some of the health benefits that you know as far as fermentation is concerned and then maybe some of the clients that you have over there in Fermentation Farm. What have they told you?

The probiotic benefits of all fermentation, even sourdough that’s cooked. They were like, “Why is sourdough something fermented? That’s not probiotics because it’s cooked.” Everything that is fermented that is not cooked is probiotics, but what the fermentation process actually does is it break down the sugar. It breaks down anti-nutrients in grains like gluten. Fermentation is not just to add probiotics to our diet. It’s also to break down these nutrients that are hard to digest. If we’re using a sourdough culture or a mother culture sourdough starter, and we put that with water and flour, we let that sit on the counter for a period of time. The yeast and bacteria that causes fermentation process in that little blob of dough are breaking down those anti-nutrients. Those nutrients that are very difficult to absorb and digest, so then when you eat the bread, you bake the bread. It’s not probiotic because it’s been cooked at 400 degrees.

When you eat that bread, the nutrients in there are more readily available and bioavailable for us to absorb and then we don’t have the anti-nutrients anymore that causes digestive distress. Think about a cabbage. You can chop up the cabbage and throw it in soup and whatever. A lot of people get a little bit gassy from that because those certain brassica vegetables tend to make you a little gassy. Those elements are broken down by the fermentation process. The yeast and bacteria that are living on that cabbage, once we shred them, put them in a little salty environment, pound the juice out and let that sit on the counter at room temperature for about a week or so. Then the anti-nutrients are absorbed and digested through those yeast and bacteria in the fermentation process.

It’s amazing how time flies. I was there for the first time in probably a few years ago and every time I’m in the Los Angeles area, I can’t wait to get over to the fermentation Farm. What about the clients over there? You must have some regulars that have been there from day one and how they’ve recovered their health with fermented foods.

HHS 18 | Fermented Food

Fermented Food: Fermentation is not just to add probiotics to our diet. It’s also to break down nutrients that are hard to digest.

 

We’ve had so many. We are a membership-based club also, which brings everybody together as a community. We offer unlimited samples to our members. We have free talks for our members. We structured it as a member-based club to build that community and have the like minds all stand together as one and learn together. It’s been great. We have over 12,000 members now, which is crazy for our little tiny shop. It’s not very big but all of these people are coming. Imagine 12,000 people who have had this experience of coming to the shop and say, “I’m down with that. I’m with you guys, I’ll be a member.” They come in with a myriad of health issues or not. Some people come in because they like Kombucha. They love the taste of it. They can see where it’s made and people like to look across into the kitchen, see where everything is made right there. We have all organic ingredients. We package everything in glass.

This man, he’s probably in his 60s. He’s like, “I’ve got to show you something on my phone.” I’m full of all these little stories of people who have had some reaction, a good reaction or benefit, to start to incorporate fermented foods into their diet. They pulled up this picture of his big toenails on his phone. I’m looking at them like, “Okay.” It all has fungus in it. The nail is all bumpy, it looks all weird. He’s like, “I’ll show you a picture of what my toe looks like now that I’ve been eating these foods and drinking Kombucha for about a month and a half.” He showed me. The end was a little bumpy and weird but all the new growth had been replaced by a perfect nail, so he was super excited. He’s like, “I’ve had this for years and years. I’m imbalanced and now my system is balancing itself out and it’s getting rid of this fungus.” That’s all he did. For six weeks, he’s consumed fermented vegetables, Kombucha, and fermented coconut yogurt. Things like that is nonstop and my staff that works in the front there, they get to hear these stories day-in and day-out too. It’s rewarding.

The nails are a reflection of what’s going on inside the gut. When you heal the gut, we heal the body from the inside out. When you heal the body from the inside and you heal that gut, it reflects as outward as you can get with that big toe. Whether it’s fungal and combined with autoimmune and how the ability of fermented foods and you use all organic ingredients. You put it all in glass. When I was there, it was the first or second time I was there and the whole family’s there and my boys are chowing down on every bit of Kombucha you guys have. Drinking up all your Kombucha. My four-year-old must have had two or three gallons of your Kombucha. While I’m combing through your refrigerator and your frozen cases, I’m like a kid in the candy store. I come across the Japanese food called Natto, the fermented soy product called Natto. I had not had soy in probably seven or eight years since I got serious about my lifestyle after meeting Dr. Heather, my wife.

I see the Natto there and I know that the Japanese have been eating it and have been talking about it for years, but I never tried it. Everybody gives, gives you like a strange look when you talk about eating it. People that have tried it will say, “That tastes terrible.” What do I do? I tell my wife, “I’m going to eat this.” Natto is a source of vitamin K. It’s a natural blood thinner with the enzyme nattokinase and your product is organic. It’s in a glass bottle from a company called NYrture out in New York. You guys carry that there. I loved it. I absolutely loved this product and I could easily see why it’s one of those secret ingredients, why the Japanese live seven years longer on average than the average American does. Tell me a little bit about that product and then give me another one of your favorite products at the store.

We source a lot of great organic products also because we can’t make everything. We’re not going to make the Natto. That’s another whole huge process to make that. We don’t make Koji or Saki. The world of fermentation is so vast. It’s so massive. We don’t make cheese. We don’t do fermented meat. There’s a lot that we don’t do. We stay in the realm of fermented vegetables, turning your root vegetables and brassicas into krauts and probiotic vegetables. We make Kombucha, we make Jun, we fermented ginger soda, root beer but things like that we can’t make. What do we do? We got to be on the hunt for the best we can get our hands on because what we make in our kitchen is the best we can do, the absolute best, highest quality ingredients. We try to source everything local as much as we can. We get a lot from local farmers.

We’re luckily in California where a lot of the produce that we use grows here in California. There are some things we can’t find locally to the quality that we want to like Natto. We looked for a long time for Natto. We wanted it in glass. We serve everything that we make in glass. We found Ann in New York and her company is NYrture and she makes three different Nattos. One with Turmeric, one that’s the plain Natto made with the yellow soybean. Then she does one with the black soybean. It also has a milder flavor. That black soybean is milder than the yellow ones. She uses all non-GMO organic soybeans, which are difficult to find. She does it in the absolute traditional method, the way they make it in Japan. The taste is delicious. If you go to XYZ Japanese restaurant and you get Natto, they put it with a little bit of steamed rice and some shredded carrots and daikon, so it dilutes it a little bit. That’s the way they eat that side dish.

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You can eat this one served right out of the jar. It tastes so good. The texture is a little funky because it does have the strands were bacteria that ferment that into a super, super vitamin K2-rich supplement. You’re taking that in because you want the K2. It has to be made properly and it has to be made with the proper ingredients and it has to be packaged in glass. For us, we have such high standards. Sometimes we do have to go to New York and to find the best. Our turmeric or Master Tonic, that’s another one of my favorites. One of my favorite products, one of the most popular products in the shop is our Master Tonic. If you think about what master tonic is, if you look up a recipe for regular master tonic, it’s Turmeric root and ginger root and some lemon, some basil and garlic and onions, whatever you want to put in there. A bunch of root vegetables, a bunch of aromatics that are flavorful. Then you take some Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, pour it on top of your roots and you let that sit there for a couple of months.

In a couple of months, you’ll have an infused vinegar. All these routes and garlic, onion, lemon, all of that will infuse itself into the vinegar. The turmeric is inflammatory and it’s a tasty little shot to take for a little bit of immune system boosting or whatever. As great as that is, if you ferment it and make it probiotic, it’s even better. That’s what we did. We took the idea of the Master Tonic or Fire Cider and we take all of those roots and we actually ferment them and then we blend them, squeeze all the goodness out of the turmeric and the ginger and all of the roots. Then we bottle that with a little bit of apple cider vinegar to give it that classic Master Tonic taste. It’s difficult to find organic turmeric. We have that flown in from Hawaii.

I’m salivating at all the stories that you’re talking about with the food. I’m ready to jump in my car right now for a ten-hour car ride because as you’re talking, I’m also thinking about the turmeric pickled eggs, which are another absolute delicacy of a food. I absolutely loved that too. You guys throw in a little bit of spicy pepper. It’s absolutely delicious. My older son loves that too. The younger guy, maybe not so much, but he’ll acquire that tastes for the spice as well. It’s so fantastic to be able to walk into the Fermentation Farm and know that anything there is on the best diet possible. It’s on the organic Paleo Diet. Everything there is of the best quality and it’s so rare that you can go in where it’s like you don’t even have to ask any questions. Everything there is on the healthy menu.

What is in the future? You’ve got 12,000 members. You have done book signings for me and my book, The Paleo Cardiologist is there and it’s a staple next to Sandor Katz’ book, Wild Fermentation. I have read his book and years ago I did ferment some vegetables and it was delicious. I did it in the second bathroom and almost destroyed the bathroom because I have no idea what I’m doing and my wife’s like, “Enough of that. Until you can perfect your methods, let’s continue to buy it.” We found the Fermentation Farm. What is next for Fermentation Farm?

We are in the middle of another expansion. From that little 800-square foot pizza place that went out of business, we quickly outgrew that space. Luckily next door there was a space available, another 600 square feet. The man that owned that business, he retired. The landlord was like, “Do you want this space next door?” We said, “Yes.” We were able to expand the bar and the retail shop and then allow the original 800 square feet to be our kitchen. We were able to expand our kitchen. We expanded the retail and refrigeration, everything into that new space. Then we ran out of refrigeration rooms for backup, so we had to put a walk-in. A couple of doors down, another space came available, so we took that and put a break room for the employees and then a walk-in and more storage than another one went out of business. We took another space to put our office there.

There’s a lot that we do to maintain this whole thing, this whole Fermentation Farm on the business side of it. We have our own office now, which is great. We’re going through our fifth expansion now in four years and we’re taking another 2,000 square feet of three more suites that have come available and we’re putting in a bone broth kitchen and more space to store Kombucha. Kombucha sits around for about three weeks. It takes a long time to make Kombucha, and they take a lot of space too. That’s what we’re doing. That’s what’s next. By March 1st, it should all be completed and we’ll have big, huge steam kettles now to make our bone broth instead of our little six-gallon kettles we have now. They’re too small. We can’t make enough bone broth to feed everybody. It’s exciting.

HHS 18 | Fermented Food

Fermented Food: Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and it’s a tasty little shot to take for immune system boosting.

 

What about a second location and what about franchise?

My best friend just semi-retired from her job. She was in financial services for 30 years and she decided that she had had enough of that. She and her husband moved up to the Seattle area and so we’re looking at space up there to potentially open another one. Her husband is a super operations guy. He has had big jobs in Hollywood as far as operations and that sort of thing. He’s our operations man. He’s going to be in the process of taking the entire Fermentation Farm concept and putting it down into some manuals that can then be franchisable. We’re looking forward to that exciting project too.

I hope you open one up where we are living, that’s for sure. Anybody who could find a Fermentation Farm in their area, I would send an email right now to Brad at Fermentation Farm and let them know that you want the franchise in your local area. I’m sure it’s probably not as difficult as someone like me, a North suburban kid from Chicago. There are 12,000 members in your area. Being part of that family is tremendous. Dr. Heather is speaking at California Jam, February 22nd to the 24th in Costa Mesa at the Segerstrom Center. I envisioned us going to Fermentation Farm at least twice while we’re out there and to the audience, if you’re in the Costa Mesa, Newport, Orange County, South LA, North LA, whatever area, it’s worth the drive to get there.

If you’re at California Jam and you’re a doctor of chiropractic or you’re into holistic health and wellness and you’re going to go, you’re going to enter the code, Wolfson 19, to get a discounted price on your ticket of California Jam, which has amazing information, speakers, all things health and wellness and some totally kick-ass rock bands in the middle. You’ve got to make some time to go to Fermentation Farm and you will absolutely love it. Dr. Yasmine Mason, thank you so much for being on this episode. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you. We’ll see you next time.

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About Dr. Yasmine Mason

HHS 18 | Fermented FoodYasmine Mason is a chiropractor, holistic living expert, and Owner of Fermentation Farm which is a private club specializing in Yasmine Masonhandcrafted fermented foods and drinks.

Their goal is to bring back traditional foods from the past that, are high in nutrients such as probiotics, b vitamins, electrolytes, collagen, and minerals. These nutrients are necessary for proper gut and immune system function and overall body wellness. Healthy gut = strong immune system. One of Dr. Yasmine’s missions is to raise the level of food consciousness.