Daniel Gorman has just finished his four years here at MIU and is quickly moving on to bigger and better things. Having started his own business, Bubbling Brine Brothers, Dan is set to take the fermented foods market by storm. I was able to pull him aside and talk to him briefly about his senior project, Knowledge Fair presentation and plans for post-graduate life:
What brought you to MIU Dan?
“Definitely the philosophy side of it. I had an interest in eastern philosophies like Buddhism, Zen.”
Awesome. Why did you decide to study Sustainable Living?
“I was a Media and Communications student at first but then I switched. I started noticing different opportunities for green jobs and hopped on that bandwagon. Since the world wasn’t ending in 2012 I wanted to focus on helping it grow and thrive.”
Totally, the world certainly needs our help with making it more sustainable in every way. Did you have a favorite SL course?
“Definitely Living Soils. I learned about soil ecology and other ecology. It definitely got me interested in symbiotic relationships and how nature works. It got me interested in gut flora and microbiology too. It’s still a very new science really. We’ve just figured out how to tell different microorganisms apart, and now we’re starting to learn what they do.”
Wow, it sounds like a really fascinating area of study. I don’t think that we think enough about how microorganisms interact in the soil and in our bodies. Very cool stuff. On a different note, congratulations on graduating and presenting at this year’s Knowledge Fair! Can you tell me about your senior project and Knowledge Fair presentation?
“My senior project was a business plan and pitch for potential investors, but it was really just to educate people on why fermented foods are important. Stewarding the bacteria in our gut and in our soil is one of the most important things we can do right now because of all of the autoimmune diseases and all of these weird food allergies and stuff that has come about from eating genetically-altered food and all of this stuff we’re putting in the soil. So it’s basically outlining the importance of the microbiome in your stomach.
The Knowledge Fair was a great experience because it was like a business presentation. You have about six minutes to be like “here’s my idea, what do you think”? It was a really cool experience.
What are you going to be doing now that you’ve graduated?
“Pursuing our business and getting all of the legal stuff done so that we can have our products in local stores, markets, HyVees, etc. We also want to hold some tastings. That kind of stuff.”
What does Bubbling Brine Brothers do and what is its mission?
“We make high-diversity probiotic foods by using a large variety of vegetables. We use organic and as locally-sourced (as possible) foods.
Which roles do you play in fulfilling that mission?
“I’m the lead production manager. I gather all of the ingredients, make the recipes and do most of the chopping. I’ll hopefully be hiring some people to help with that soon though.”
What kind of benefits are there from eating fermented foods regularly?
“From my perspective it’s really just like compost. Your adding beneficial micro-organisms that help keep things in check. They’re what’s called mutualistic or commensal bacteria, meaning their neutral; they benefit each species by synthesizing vitamins or nutrients in the stomach, just like the soil. There really isn’t any bad bacteria in my opinion. It’s just when they go out of balance, when that commensal flora isn’t there to keep things in check, things tend to go wrong.”
What sets your product stand apart from typical fermented foods?
“It’s like a fine cheese; there’s more time put into it. Our main competition is with products that are just cabbage and salt, or something. We put in things like peppers, onions, and garlic; more nutrient-dense foods. Foods that are already high in vitamins and nutrients, when they’re fermented, the nutrients become more bio-available and easier to digest (because it’s so close to the pH of your stomach). It makes it easier for the body to absorb those nutrients.”
Is your fermenting process different than your competition’s?
“It’s not pasteurized, and it’s not done in vinegar. Vinegar is what you usually see in pickling. It’s basically just alive, it’s as alive as you can get.
Are there any upcoming events in the BBB world that you can tell me about?
“There will be a tasting over at Green Building Supply on June 20th from 11am-3pm. We’ll be sampling and have jars of our fermented foods available.
Do you have any advice for younger students that are interested in pursuing a career in sustainability or the line of work that you’re pursuing?
“Definitely focus on the soil world. People are just now starting to become savvy with why the ground isn’t growing food anymore, turning to compost tea and extracts. I mean, it’s crazy that it even is the way it is, so we have to put it back to the way it was. Other cultures have used organic farming throughout their history and never left it and everything is fine. It’s just about not disrupting the ecology of something because it affects everything else. There’s just too many chemicals. Stick with soil. There’s going to be a lot of jobs coming up in that field.