I am fortunate to have made it to Chicago safely for the Wise Traditions 2009 conference hosted by the Weston A. Price Foundation. The lectures that I attended yesterday were were presented by Sally Fallon Morell herself, president of the foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions, one of my favorite cookbooks.
Sally Fallon’s seminar thoroughly discussed the work of Dr. Weston A Price starting with his dental profession during the twenties and his research and exploration of traditional diets that still remained (before modern and processed foods became the norm). Dr. Price started his research due to the high amounts of tooth decay and crowded teeth he was seeing and his belief of the strong impact of the diet on a healthy mouth and healthy body.
Dr. Price traveled the world studying the people of isolated villages that were self-sustained and had no food coming in yet from the outside world. He found that these people had wonderful nutrition (actually much better than the nutrition in more developed areas eating modern food) as they had much healthier teeth and overall dental health (straight teeth with no crowding and rarely a cavity- even without brushing).
In addition to healthier teeth, Dr. Price observed taller, lean people with full, wide facial structures which seem to have thinned out over generations with the lack of nutrition in modern, processed food. They had wider jaws allowing room for all of the teeth and even though some of the people had worn teeth from chewing leather, there was no decay.
Although he noticed differences in the diets of people in isolated villages, he found that all of them did consume animal products in one way or another (for example, in livers, fish oil, or raw milk) and often times they ate fermented foods. After his nutritional studies were completed, Dr. Price concluded that the diets of isolated people contained ten times the fat-soluble vitamins and four times the calcium and minerals as the modern American diet. I daresay this number would be higher now as foods have only become more processed and refined since Dr. Price’s time.
From the findings of Dr. Price’s research, the Weston A. Price foundation recommends foods that are often not recommended now, such as cod liver oil, raw milk, egg yolks, butter, cream, grass-fed land animals, and animal fat. Some of these are oppressed due to powerful industries and lacking research, but supplements such as cod liver oil have just seemed to die out over the years as other medicines and remedies have taken over.
While I can’t possibly cover all of the information Sally presented, I can refer you to the Weston A. Price website for details of their research and studies as well as their diet recommendations. A wonderful variety of food supporting the diet is being served at the conference; such as the lunch yesterday of arugula salad, lacto-fermented carrots, garlic toast, chicken cacciatore, tuscan white bean soup, herbed corn polenta triangles, and an antipasto platter of organ sausages and artisanal meats.
While it is strange for some of us to think about incorporating the dreaded organ meats into our diet, the nutritional value is just phenomenal. The sausages and meats tasted just fine and later in the evening the meat loaf for dinner contained organ meats and was probably the best meat loaf I’ve ever had. What’s nice about the Weston A. Price foundation is that they support a diet of a variety of foods. Not just raw or vegetarian or vegan, but learning how to prepare everything in a way that is healthy and maximizes nutrients and their absorbtion into the body.
This means that we can eat meat, butter, vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, and desserts as long as they are prepared in ways that are healthy. The Nourishing Traditions cookbook is a great guide for recipes and getting started. The main thing to avoid is refined and processed foods (which have little or no nutritional value and can actually be dangerous from the process due to additives, preservatives, and chemicals used in production).
I will be attending another portion of the conference today and should have further information and reportings later this weekend! Since I’ve tried to consolidate a lot of information into a small post, please let me know if you have any questions.