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Bread & Butter: New Zealand’s Isabel Pasch Discusses The Health Benefits of Fermented Sourdough

We are not just individuals; we are ecosystems, constantly interacting with the microbial world within us. ~ Gut

Isabel Pasch - Bread and Butter Bakery

Balancing gut health begins with understanding what a body needs. When I began thinking about microbiomes and the aspects of balance in my life recently, I often wondered what it takes to manage a healthy gut and the practice of eating fermented foods. I know what I am eating, maybe a bit too much, but I think about what goes into my body. Preparing whole foods from the garden, farmers' markets and scratch cooking is a practice in my household. Eating with probiotics in mind is crucial in managing gut health because it helps reduce inflammation and fine-tune my immune system. What if I eat less processed foods and bake or purchase sourdough-fermented bread products? Then, I would have to balance my time better to manage my gut health more thoughtfully. Although preparing homemade bread and organically fermented products is laborious, these foods are better for my health. 

Managing A Changing Microbiome

When I sat down for a discussion with Isabel Pasch, founder of Bread & Butter in Auckland, New Zealand, she not only founded the bakehouse and cafe, but she also built a Blog called Bread Politics, with the mission of sharing her journey and passion for the practice of using wholes foods to make a starter with a balanced microbiome. As a microbiologist, she’s making a difference in the lives of New Zealanders. A ‘Steward of the Starter,’ she’s managing versatile microbes to produce healthy bread and baked goods. 

Sourdough Starter

With the attention to detail in the fermentation process, the bread replenishes our much-needed microbiome, helping us to find and keep that balance. These microbes help the starter grow, beginning with flora and fauna of the geography, and some come from the hands of the baker themself. Breadbakers worldwide use traditions handed down to them, ones they’ve learned and work best for their recipes. I follow a method that works for me, having been taught by several chefs from Sonoma and Napa a traditional San Francisco Sourdough. When preparing a starter, it is essential to make culture first, a live fermented ecosystem of flour and water.

Bread & Butter Breads

Farming In New Zealand 

New Zealand farmers grow over 400,000 tons of wheat annually, mainly used for feed and exports. However, milling operations are at 25% of total crops harvested. Most bakehouses buy flour products from Australian Regenerative Farming operations and sustainable mills.  Regenerative Farming is in an exploratory phase, and most farmers are working to determine the costs and equipment required before they jump into the program.  Organically certified farmers total 1,200, producing nearly $1B in crop value. As a frame of reference, <1% of all wheat farms are organic in the U.S.


Bread & Butter

Bread & Butter buys grains from Whole Grain Milling in New South Wales. Their commodity suppliers are certified sustainable or certified organic, carefully selecting wholistic products where available.  The bakery produces a variety of kumara and cumin sourdough, German sourdoughs, sourdough baguette, and many more. Scrolling through their “Socials,” - they have Portuguese tarts, crème brûlée, lemon cheesecake, and tiramisu doughnuts. 

Bread & Butter Bakery

With an open format, tall ceilings, and a warm industrial look, the bakery on Westmoreland Street W is a home away from home. Just above, the bakehouse is wrapped in artistic bakers whisks, comfortable seating, and delicious bread organized across the back, which you can see when walking into the bakery. The counter full of sandwiches is beautifully curated with freshly made products and hot cross buns ready to go. Summer is just kicking off in Auckland - make sure to swing by and grab a bite while sightseeing.

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