Animals Like Fermented Food?

I’ve blogged a zillion times about the value of fermented food. Animals seem to agree with me:

At least twice in the past ten years [1998-2008], [elephant] herds in India have stumbled upon barrels of rice beer, drained them with their trunks, and gone on drunken rampages. (The first time, they trampled four villagers; the second time they uprooted a pylon and electrocuted themselves.) Howler monkeys, too, have a taste for things fermented. In Panama, they’ve been seen consuming overripe palm fruit at the rate of ten stiff drinks in twenty minutes. Even flies have a nose for alcohol. They home in on its scent to lay their eggs in ripening fruit, insuring their larvae a pleasant buzz.

It’s possible that the elephants were thirsty, of course, but these stories support the idea that our liking for fermented foods goes back a long way and has a genetic basis. I heard a story about horses preferring rotting apples to fresh ones, which shows how to improve the evidence: give animals a choice between fresh and older food.

2 Replies to “Animals Like Fermented Food?”

  1. On Polyface farm:
    “He (Salatin) puts the cows in a 3-sided, roofed barn, and as they poop and the level rises, he puts straw and corn on top of it, then repeats until the end of winter. The heat of anaerobic decomposition keeps the cows warm. Then in spring, he lets the pigs in, where they root through it to dig out the fermented corn.”

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