This weekend I have two fabulous days at Epsom Downs Racecourse learning about all things food and health (as normal, I hear you mutter) but from a traditional viewpoint rather than a new age, supplement silly, almost religious approach to food that can sometimes be seen.
Weston A. Price was an American dentist who decided to study well people to see what they did that kept them well, rather than studying sick people to see why they got sick. Not many people do that even now. In the 1930s he visited communities around the world, did detailed studies on their facial and dental health, over all health and diets. His book ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’ is his documented evidence of his studies.
This conference is run by the London Chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Philip Ridley did a fantastic job with regards to the organisation of the event, getting great speakers on great topics and also some very interesting exhibitors.
There were several streams and you had to choose who to listen to, so I am going to review my own sessions, but then give you sneaky tips I picked up from others who were at different meetings.
Keynote – Sally Fallon Morell – President of the Weston A. Price Foundation
Sally introduced the audience to the works of Weston Price, using photos from his studies to show the difference between the communities who ate nutrient dense foods and those who moved away to a more westernised diet that contained processed grains, sugar and fats. In the communities where traditional foods were eaten teeth were straight and strong with no overcrowding or decay. He would see 1 decayed tooth every 3 mouths or so and yet when he measured the teeth of the communities who had moved to a modernised diet, and were eating ‘displaced foods’ he was witnessing 1 tooth in every three.
His travels took him to many different parts of the world where food supplies were different. So on a Scottish Hebridean Island he found a community with no animals, no nuts, fruit or vegetables, and yet they were healthy and thriving. They lived off the land on oats, seafood and seaweed. Makes you wonder whether our overloading of information with regards to a good diet is too much noise — back to basics.
She spoke of the Swiss, the Scots, the Eskimos (who ate a LOT of seal oil), Floridian Indians, and people from the South Seas. All showing signs of excellent health and longevity, but with a variety of indigenous foods that suited their bodies well.
All of these diets contained nutrient dense foods high in vitamin A, D and K. Now before you pop off to Holland & Barrett for a pill. It won’t work like that! The combination of those vitamins within the food stuffs was the key to the success of this natural way of eating.
Nourishing Traditional Diets – Sally Fallon Morrell
If you chose to stay, Sally continued with the 11 principles that Dr Price concluded with after his travels.
She covered how every diet he came into contact with used animal produce in some ways. It may have been meat, but milk, cheese, butter, bone broth, fish eggs, fermented fish oil all had a part to play too. He ranked this very highly.
The foods were very nutrient dense. They were locally grown, off course no chemical sprays then and foods were cherished for being healthful. Each community for example had a ‘sacred food’ one that was saved for couples pre-conception, for the pregnant and nursing mother and for the young.
They ate fermented foods of some sort. Whether it was yogurt or cheese, sauerkraut or fermented fish. All of these foods kept their digestion healthy.
They ate a lot of animal fat. They recognised that the body runs on fat, prized it and made it a large part of their daily intake.
There is much more Sally spoke of. She spoke at length and comfortably. It was nice to listen to her, she had a dry sense of humour which came across every now and then. A very interesting and yet encompassing presentation as to why what Dr Price discovered then is so relevant today.
Benefits of Raw Milk, Dangers of Fluoride and The Cholesterol Myth in part ii