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By: The Villages | Jul 27, 2022

Functional Foods & Beverages

There is a not-so-new trend with old roots — and it’s here to stay: functional foods and functional beverages. So, what does “functional” mean?

This product category relates to a food or beverage product that has an “added physiological benefit(s) above and beyond its naturally occurring, inherent benefits.” In other words, functional foods and beverages may have a positive effect on one’s health way beyond basic nutrition. Supporters of functional foods and beverages believe that these foods and beverages not only support optimal health but may help lower the risk of various chronic diseases.

Fermented foods and beverages fall under the category of functional foods and beverages. The Villages Grown ‘ferments’ are a favorite category among patrons. This is due to the abundance of optimal health benefits coupled with deliciousness. What exactly is a fermented food or beverage? The term fermentation refers to the process of the natural, chemical breakdown of a substance through the addition of bacteria, yeasts or other microorganisms. Examples include the process of fermentation involved in the making of beer, wine and liquor, in which sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol.

Fermentation also has been historically used as a method of food preservation before the introduction of the refrigeration into our modern kitchens. Additionally, all our beloved condiments were originally created as a ferment to serve the purpose of providing a digestive aid with animal protein consumption.
Fermented foods and beverages contain beneficial bacteria, probiotics and sometimes prebiotics, of which establish a healthy gut microbiome.

The establishment of a healthy gut microbiome is of extreme importance for all. Our body’s microbiome consists of trillions of living microbes inside our guts. These microbes produce healthy, natural, chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Ensuring that you have a diverse and thriving microbiome not only strengthens one’s mental health but also can prevent circumstances such as having the urge to over-eat, while also regulating one’s digestive system.

Prebiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichoke, onion, honey and green bananas supply the food that supports the proliferation of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. The Villages Grown carries many of these prebiotic foods at its store in The Market at Sawgrass Grove. This product category includes cheeses (both plant-based and animal dairy), pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, maccha teas and kombucha.
Kombucha is a fermented tea (fermented functional beverage) that has regained popularity over the past two decades. The Villages Grown has two exclusive varieties of kombucha on tap that are fueled by The Villages Grown produce, as well many other flavors. (Look for The Villages Grown labeling and/or the ‘v’ symbol that will let you know which items are fueled). The key is to consume at least a cup a day for optimal wellness.

Another functional food fan favorite is cold pressed juice. You may have seen the rainbow of liquids lining the shelves in clean little bottles. These nutritional powerhouses are a great way to improve your overall health. They support the detoxification process in your body while supplying your body with an instant boost of toxin-fighting and immune-boosting nutrients. Because the fibrous pulp of the fruits and vegetables have been removed, you receive an immediate supply of vitamins and nutrients that go straight to work in your body. Consumption is often followed by a zing of energy much like caffeine.

While they may look like a drink, they also can serve as a meal-replacing functional beverage. The Villages Grown Florida-Forward Program is still the heart of the company’s mission, offering the best from Florida’s agricultural and artisanal producers. The Villages Grown will continue to embark on a culinary collaboration with local artisans by offering them The Villages Grown farm products in exchange for their exploration in a host of functional foods and beverages. The Villages Grown will host continuing education, and local farm and artisan partner demonstration days at its store in The Market at Sawgrass Grove and through other community events.

You can find The Villages Grown local produce and plant-forward artisanal items at the following retailers in The Villages:

  • The Villages Grown retail store at The Market at Sawgrass Grove, 766 Marilee Place, Suite 104, The Villages
  • Publix Super Markets throughout The Villages
  • Winn-Dixie throughout The Villages
  • Earth Fare, Lady Lake
  • Various restaurants, hospitals and assisted living facilities within The Villages community

You can now have The Villages Grown produce box as well as healthy, ready-to-eat meals delivered right to your doorstep on a weekly basis through our partnership with Heirloom. Visit

Jennifer Waxman, Executive Director of The Villages Grown