Ex-professional cyclist and former food science student Pat Drapac knows the importance of keeping your gut in a good health. If he didn’t, he may not have been able to follow that gut instinct to bring cultured and fermented vegetables to the tables around Victoria. “Cycling was rigorous on my health and the importance of good food became a priority,” Drapac says. “While scoping out some health food stores, I saw lack of real healthy food that can affect your wellbeing through the gut. After reading the book The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz, all of my thoughts were reaffirmed and I knew I could do something really special that combined the two things I love: eating healthy and feeding people.”

After a trip across California, learning all he could from the fermenting masters of the west coast, Drapac returned to Australia keen to fill the bellies of the people around him with cultured vegetables that would have positive effects on not only stomachs, but minds as well.

“When vegetables are fermented, they develop this dual role – they are still a raw food so they detoxify, but fermentation transforms the vegetable into a nourishing food,” Drapac explains. “This means that fermented veggies carry out the toxins in your body and then stimulate the growth of good gut flora. Because your stomach lining has more serotonin than your brain, the food that goes into it affects your mental health in addition to physical health. As a result, fermented vegetables positively impact digestive functions, skin, dental hygiene and your mood, amongst other things.”

Pat’s Veg is popping up all over town (the chances are that you ate some last time you took a bite of the quinoa salad at Auction Rooms). With more cafes and health food stores placing orders every week, Drapac has been keeping himself fairly busy.

“We’re currently in the process of opening a shop on Sydney Road and now that we’ve nailed our range we’ll be appearing at a few other markets. While what’s on offer is constantly in a state of evolution and addition we have a few that will be here to stay. Cabbage & Caraway Seed and Mixed Beetroot with Purple Carrot seem to be the crowd favourites, but our latest edition, the Kim-Chi, is my pick of the bunch. It’s a mix of cabbage, carrot, daikon, red capsicum, leek, fresh chilli, ginger and some mild spices.”

Fermented veggies haven’t established much of a culture here yet, but these little jars of tangy goods are delicious, colourful and healthy, and pretty fun to try making yourself.

Find Pat's Veg at:
Flemington Farmers Market - every Sunday
Woodend Market - first Saturday of the month
Coburg Farmers Market - second and fourth Saturdays of the month
Fairfield Farmers Market - third Saturday of the month

The permanent Pat's Veg store on Sydney Road is set to open in the next four weeks.