Fresh Food from Small Spaces–A Book Review

At Fermentools, we want you to have the best knowledge about fermenting foods as possible. That is why we like to share different resources with you. I hope you enjoy this review of Fresh Food from Small Spaces. For more great resources, click Book Reviews in the sidebar.

Book Review: Fresh Food from Small Spaces – The Square Inch Gardeners Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting and Sprouting

Perhaps you’ve never thought of your home ferments as having an impact on the global food chain, or as an act of preparedness, but even simple things can have an impact on both the food miles to your plate and your ability to provide for yourself in an emergency.

Fresh Food from Small Spaces by R.J. Ruppenthal focuses on “square inch gardening” or producing food at home without the benefit of farmland, or even a yard of your own.  With the use of vertical gardening, container gardening, sprouting, urban animal husbandry (bees, chickens, etc), mushroom growing and preserving your foods through fermentation, the author aims to empower the reader to reduce their food miles and take ownership of their own needs through providing for themselves.

Using the information in this book, anyone living in a typical city apartment, condominium, townhouse or single family home could apply just two or three of the strategies mentioned in this book and grow up to 10 to 20 percent of their own fresh food….In short, this book is about using every square inch of your available space to create a fresher and more sustainable lifestyle.

While the book is more about food production rather than preparation or preservation, the author argues that fermentation is cultivation.  The fermented foods section focuses less on the foods you’re fermenting, and more on the act of growing beneficial microbes.  “Fermentation is a way of ‘growing’ or ‘farming’ beneficial microflora that help produce your own superfood.”  By fermenting foods, you’re participating in countertop cultivation that has the power to enhance the starting ingredients with both tasty and healthy results.

Yogurt, for example, contains 20 percent more protein than the milk it’s made from, and the fermentation process enables your body to more easily absorb its calcium, iron and amino acids.

Overall, the book is written in an accessible conversational style, with verbal descriptions of how to accomplish the projects it contains, rather than itemized recipes.  Imagine your grandmother is talking to you in the kitchen, and walking you through making kraut, yogurt or kimchi for the first time and you’ll get the idea.

While it is a book about specific projects to produce and ferment your own food, the final two chapters, “Survival During Resource Shortages” and “Helping To Build a Sustainable Future,” take the message off of your kitchen counter to a more global understanding of the importance of food self-reliance.  By producing and/or fermenting even a small portion of the food you consume, you’re reducing the distance food travels from production to your plate, and lowering the percentage of calories you consume that are derived from factory farming practices.

Ending the book on a global note leaves you, as the reader, both empowered and inspired to complete the projects laid out in the previous chapters, and made me happy I’m a home fermenter.


If you are new to fermenting foods, Fermentools is here to help you get started. Click on The Basics in the menu bar for some great information to get you started. Then visit our store for the best equipment on the market. Finally, let us know how it goes. We would love to hear your successes or answer any questions you have.


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