Why Japan’s favorite fermented pasta may be the key to a low-carbon diet

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Three women stand around a wooden table in a large kitchen. The smell of cooked soybeans fills the room and only the sound of air being squeezed from a soft pulp breaks the silence.

The women combine a smooth puree of soybeans with a coarse mix of koji rice and salt. This painstaking process will result in a paste that, after fermenting for a year, becomes miso, an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking that gives foods a distinctive flavor – from the ubiquitous soup eaten with every meal of the day to ramen and stewed vegetables.

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Miso is just one type of fermented seasoning that, much to the delight of a gourmet, can be used to enrich a wide variety of dishes. But the benefits of fermented foods don’t stop at the dinner table.

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