Well. I just spent 45 minutes writing this review, then hit “save and continue editing” and the article disappeared. Of course, I should have hit “save and continue editing” before I had been writing for 45 minutes.
So you had better read this post and appreciate it dadgummit!
I read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price 3 years ago and was blown away. You know my overall philosophy of nutrition is a bit jaded, right?
But reading this book changed me a lot. It also made more sense than anything I had ever read before about nutrition.
Dr. Weston A. Price was a Dentist. He started to notice that his patients who were experiencing tooth decay and other dental problems often had chronic debilitating illness. So, in a quest to find out the secret to health, he set out to travel the world.
Dr. Price traversed the globe – he studied isolated peoples from the Swiss to the Gaelic islanders, from Inuit peoples in Greenland to Polynesians in the South Seas. He became fascinated by the fact that these folks – as long as they were eating their native diets – had no dental caries nor did they suffer orthodontia ills. They lived healthy lives into old age with no chronic illness, and the elderly stayed sharp in mind too. He also noticed that the women had a much easier time of labor and delivery.
Despite the fact that these folks had no toothbrushes or floss and had certainly never seen a Dentist before, they had broad, beautiful smiles with almost perfect teeth! While I wouldn’t necessarily vouch for their morning breath, the fact remains that they seemed immune to dental issues that plagued even “healthy” people in industrialized nations – Dr. Price’s contemporaries.
Dr. Price was determined to find out why this was so. So he began to study their diets. What he found was that as long as these isolated people kept eating the traditional foods, the effect remained. When they strayed (often as a result of “white man” diets thanks to the missionaries – white flour, white sugar, jams, candies, canned fruits and veggies) they suffered quickly. The next generation would be born with crowded teeth, small jaws, maloclussions and they even became less physically attractive (how’s that for motivation to eat better? Prettier kids!).
While the diets of these people were extremely varied, they had several things in common. Some of these commonalities were:
- An emphasis on animal foods. There were no vegetarians anywere to be found. All the cultures placed a very high value on animal protein - fish, meats, organs, eggs, dairy products. They went to especially great lengths to be sure that children and women in their reproductive years had these foods.
- Lots and lots of fat. Whether is was coconut oil and palm oil or raw, nonhomogenized butter and milk, these peoples ate a large percentage of their calories as fat.
- Specially prepared sprouted grains, naturally fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, kim chi and the like, and cultured dairy in the form of kefir, buttermilk, cultured butter.
There were a few other similarities but these were the most important. Here is a quote from the website that puts it succintly:
“When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated peoples he found that, in comparison to the American diet of his day, they provided at least four times the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins, from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and animal fats–the very cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the American public as unhealthful.
These healthy traditional peoples knew instinctively what scientists of Dr. Price’s day had recently discovered–that these fat-soluble vitamins, vitamins A and D, were vital to health because they acted as catalysts to mineral absorption and protein utilization. Without them, we cannot absorb minerals, no matter how abundant they may be in our food.”
That last sentence was a bit chilling. To think that as a mom I could take great care to feed my kids well – but missing one important element, they would not get the benefit!
Shortly after, I purchased Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, still one of my favorite cookbooks. The rebel in you just has to love the title! It’s far more than a cookbook though. It’s a research guide, home arts reference, nutrition book and more. It’s also kind of the official cookbook of the Weston A Price Foundation – its author, Sally Fallon, is the founder of WaPF.
The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the ideas of the late Dr. Price. (They’re also the folks behind RealMilk.org) I joined two months ago and am enjoying the quarterly journal, Wise Traditions, immensely. It’s far more than a magazine – this is a publication you STUDY, not read. I’m still working through my first two issues. I “read” them with pen in hand so that I can make notes to help me remember things I’m learning and can refer to in the future. And I enjoy the letters from readers all over the world immensely – they’re full of great tips and inspiring stories of people who have enjoyed tremendous health changes as a result of changing their diet to a more traditional one. I’m also very impressed with the depth of research that obviously goes into the articles. They delve deep and take a bit of work to get through.
When you join WaPF as a member, you also get a handy-dandy Shopping Guide to keep in your purse when you go to the store. It helps you make better food choices and recommends specific name brands.
Another neat thing about the magazine are the resources and advertisers in the back – they’re carefully screen to be “WaPF” friendly. They don’t just accept any advertiser willynilly. So you can feel good about supporting these small, local farmers who use sustainable methods to produce organic products.
It’s scary what’s happening to our food supply in this country – the megamonopolistic food conglomerates who control (according to industry experts) 98% of the food industry are making our food cheaper, faster and cardboard-er every day. They don’t care about your health or your family’s health. Eating their food is making us fat yet simultaneously malnourished. We’re slaves to our cravings and to the hundreds of additives (some of which are put in there just to trick our brains and taste buds into craving more) that are surreptitiously put into these fake foods.
It’s enough to make a mother mad.
There is a lot more I could say about Weston A Price, and I am planning a series of articles to publish on this blog on the topics of raw milk, cod liver oil and grass fed meat. But for now I’ll just share two things about the WaP style of eating that have been pretty huge for me.
- For one, I’ve had stomach problems all my life. While a lot of this is due to stress (I put all my stress into my stomach!), I also have had issues with dairy products. Drinking one glass of milk would have me hurting.
Not so with raw milk. I can drink it all day long and never have the first stomach pain. It makes so much sense to me. Just as human breastmilk has enzymes to help baby digest it easily, raw milk contains the enzymes that make IT easy to digest. I love it and have been drinking it for several years now. Raw milk also works wonders on my cravings for sweets (probably because of the fat content).
- Secondly – soaked grains. I’ve had issues with low blood sugar and hypoglycemia since I was a kid. I don’t do well with wheat at all, but I can eat oats… but they would trigger episodes of low blood sugar. I could eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning and be shaky and weak 30 minutes later.
However, when I soak my oats overnight (with an acid medium – such as a tablespoon of whey or sour milk in the soaking water), I can go all morning without getting hungry or feeling ill. I’m convinced that the reason for this is because since soaked grains are far easier to digest – and the body can get the full benefit of the minerals and vitamins due to a long soaking process that disables the phytates (enzyme inhibitors), I’m simply getting more nutrition from the same bowl of oatmeal!
I have already sung the wonders of coconut oil… for one, it keeps me regular. And that is a huge blessing. It also seems to help with my joint and muscle aches. My mother has fibromyalgia, and I’ve suffered with aches and pains since I was in my early 20′s, but the coconut oil seems to keep me lubricated… probably due to the antioxidants and healthy fats.
Check back later on this week for more about other tenets of the Weston A Price style of eating. And I encourage you to look into making a tax deductible contribution and joining WaPF.