Drifter Ferments Is a Go-to for Gut Health in Warwick

Farm-to-table fare and house-made fermented products make healthy eating delicious and sustainable at Drifter Ferments.

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We’ve all read about the importance of gut health, but it isn’t always easy to incorporate fermented foods into our diets. At Drifter Ferments, it couldn’t be simpler thanks to the array of house-made products including vegetable ferments, tempeh, sourdough bread, and cultured condiments. Not only does this specialty store based in the historic center of Warwick offer its own products, but it also serves farm-to-table fare and locally roasted coffee in the café, collaborating with local farms and businesses to spotlight the importance of sustainable and seasonal foods that enrich a community of eaters.

Founder of Drifter Ferments, Tara Whitsitt, has been teaching the art of fermentation and crafting ferments for over a decade. Previously, Whitsitt had roamed the country, sharing culture, passion, and tasty food out of her traveling education hub Fermentation on Wheels. Whitsitt taught the nonprofit project out of a 40-foot converted school bus and worked with schools, farms, and other food justice nonprofits across the country to help increase access to traditional food processes and foodways that are also beneficial for human health. After her travels, Whitsitt also published a book on the topic of fermentation and her personal experiences with it by the same name, Fermentation on Wheels.

 

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It was during her travels that Whitsitt realized her love for the Hudson Valley region in 2019. Here for a few teaching opportunities, she was hosting pop-up dinners when the pandemic hit, and it became time to switch gears. After trying a few ideas, the café space that would become Drifter Ferments became available. Whitsitt has been in the Warwick location focusing her craft since 2020; the doors to her business opened to the public officially in 2021.

One of the best things about Whitsitt’s shop is that it is seasonally focused, with all products being handmade in-house. The menu boasts an impressive range of wonderfully creative items like the barbecue tempeh sandwich and the KLLT (kimchi-lettuce-tomato-tempeh) sandwich. The tempeh is a notable product, not only because Whitsitt makes it with several bean varieties like pinto, garbanzo, and black bean, but also because it’s made fresh weekly.

 

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All sandwiches are made with Drifter Ferments’ very own sourdough bread and fermented vegetables, as well as rotating cultured condiments that are available for purchase to take home. In the summer months, Whitsitt focuses more on kombuchas and other non-alcoholic fermented beverages – spotlighting kombucha popsicles that get a lot of love during the hottest months. Another popular menu item is the tempeh Reuben, which is by far the all-time best-seller at the café.

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As a farm-to-ferment business, Drifter Ferments works with the most organic, local, sustainable, fair-trade businesses in the Valley. For vegetables, Whitsitt sources her stock from Sun Sprout Farm and Choy Division in Chester, while most of her beans are sourced from Genesee Valley Farm in Caledonia. As for grains, Whitsitt turns to Farmer Ground Flour in Trumansburg, Champlain Valley Milling in Willsboro, and Morganics Family Farm in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

 

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With her business, Whitsitt is happy to fill a niche in her local community and provide organic, nutrient-dense foods to Warwick natives.

Whitsitt affirms, “I appreciate my customers in a deep-hearted way — not only are they my customers, but they’re also my friends and neighbors, too.” As Drifter Ferments grows, it hopes to provide the community with healthy alternatives to conventional grocery store items while also educating people about the processes and nutrition of fermented foods. In fact, this fall, Whitsitt is expanding her little café into a teaching kitchen to engage visitors in fermentation education workshops.

“So much of educational work is about offering something that sparks curiosity, so having my products readily available to do just that has been a beautiful part of having my own production and retail space.”

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Drifter Ferments is located at 2 Oakland Avenue #1A, Warwick.

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