INVERNESS NATIVE MAGGIE Levinger met Luke Regalbuto when he came to work at a cafe she managed in Humboldt County. Soon, common interests that included food, nutrition and travel took them on a long journey ranging from Ireland to the Balkans, Romania and Ukraine, during which the couple explored old methods of food production and preservation. “When we got back to West Marin we were more inspired than ever and began experimenting with fermentation in our home kitchen,” Regalbuto says. Before long, word had spread and Wild West Ferments was born. The two ferment locally grown organic produce with wild indigenous yeasts and bacteria to create healthy — and flavorful — food and beverages.
PHILOSOPHY For Wild West Ferments, integrity and quality are paramount. “All of our vegetable products are fermented in traditional ceramic crocks for six weeks or longer to ensure maximum nutrition and flavor,” says Levinger of the process. “Other companies ferment in plastic for as little as 10 days.” The company also reduced its environmental footprint by using a deposit system to encourage recycling of its glass. THE SCOOP Wild West Ferments aims to create products that make friends, family and community happy while keeping them healthy. As such, the small company is slow growing, paying much more attention to quality than quantity. If you’re not sure where to start in your sampling of the fermented goodies, Levinger and Regalbuto recommend the Signature Sauerkraut; made with cumin and coriander seeds, it’s still their most popular product. BEYOND MARIN Aside from Marin-based purveyors, Wild West Ferments can also be found at Bi-Rite Market, Rainbow Grocery and Real Food Co. in San Francisco; and Petaluma Seed Back, Oliver’s Market, Community Market and Thistle Meats in Sonoma County — leaving locals with no excuse not to sample the wares. Levinger and Regalbuto have also taught courses in food preservation and fermentation throughout Northern California, inspiring others to pay more attention to food production. WHAT THEY SAY “Wild West Ferments was born through the encouragement and support of our community and continues to grow as a company that strives to be the best it can be — for our friends and family who work to create the products, for the farmers we support and for the health of our customers, community and planet.” wildwestferments.com