The Wisest Woman in America?
A talk about food, nutrition, and Weston Price
with Sally Fallon
Who was Weston Price and how did you connect with his work?
Weston Price was a dentist who practiced in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1930s and 1940s. He was president of the National Dental Association and a tireless researcher. He wrote numerous articles for professional journals as well as a 1000-page book on the dangers of root canals.
But Price is best known for his masterpiece on nutrition and human health, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. This book describes his findings over a ten-year period as he traveled to remote areas of the globe to study the health and diets of the people. He found 14 groups that had superb health as evidenced by their freedom from tooth decay and complete absence of dental deformities. Every person in these communities had straight teeth and broad faces.
When he analyzed the foods of these healthy groups, he found that the diets were extremely rich in minerals. But even more important, the diets had ten times the fat-soluble vitamins as the American diet of his day. By fat-soluble vitamins he meant vitamin A and vitamin D, along with a third fat-soluble nutrient he called Factor X. These nutrients are found only in certain animal fats. They are found in seafoods; insects; the organ meats and butter fat of animals that eat green grass; and the depot fat of certain animals like bears and pigs.
Now this is very different than the message we are hearing today. What I call the Diet Dictocrats are telling us to avoid all animal fats--that animal fats are the dietary villains that are causing heart disease and cancer. The cultures Price studied valued the fatty parts of the animals as the absolute basis of good health. As Price pointed out, the nutrients in the fats are catalysts. Without them we cannot absorb minerals, no matter how abundant they are in our food. And the fat-soluble vitamins are vital to the function of the endocrine system, which regulates all the processes in the body.
I had the good fortune to discover the work of Weston Price almost 30 years ago when I was starting out with my family. I raised my four children according to his principles, with a diet high in fats like butter and eggs, cod liver oil every day, and a minimum of sugar and white flour. And I proved to myself that this diet works very well. I am not saying this to brag but so that others can benefit. None of the children needed to have their teeth straightened, none ever needed an antibiotic, none ever had an earache. They have all grown up into healthy, high functioning individuals.
When the diets of pregnant mothers and growing children provide the nutrients children need, including the nutrients in the fats, their growth and development is not a hardship for the parents but a wonder and a joy. This is the goal of all the work that I am doing, from my book Nourishing Traditions to the guidance of the Weston A. Price Foundation. The goal is supremely healthy children, capable of limitless energy and intense concentration, growing into adults with the will and intelligence required to solve the world's problems. And we are only going to accomplish this if we throw out all the misinformation promulgated through the media and return to the basics of good nutrition that Price taught.
You say "misinformation promulgated through the media". Are you suggesting that there's a nutritional conspiracy going on in the media?
The misinformation in the media is probably 99 percent just mistaken reporting. But there is a one percent who know they are deliberately putting out misinformation. One good example is Dr. Fred Mattson, employed by Proctor and Gamble, the producer of margarines and shortenings. He worked behind the scenes, manipulating the official statements of the American Heart Association and the way the results of the Lipid Clinics Research Trials would be presented to the public.
Another person who should be named is Peter Barton Hutt, a lawyer for the food industry who became general counsel for the FDA and changed the regulations so that it would be easier to sell imitation foods based on vegetable oils. Some feel that he is uniquely responsible for the degradation of the American food supply
Senator George McGovern was very influential in getting Americans to abandon healthy animal fats and start using vegetable oils in a big way. He deliberately ignored thousands of pages of dissenting testimony that came to the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Then he chose a vegetarian journalist, who knew absolutely nothing about nutrition, to write the final report. Was this deliberate conspiracy or unbelievable stupidity? Hard to say, but that report had the effect of pushing America headlong into imitation foods.
There are so many vested interests that profit from the theory that animal fats and cholesterol are bad--vegetable oil producers (mostly soy), food companies, the dairy interests (because they can get more out of the cow when she produces lowfat milk), fast food companies, drug companies, doctors, special education (for all the young people with learning disabilities)--even advertising and banking interests (because the use of vegetable oils has allowed food companies to make such enormous profits, hence more money for advertising, mergers, etc.) If even 10 percent of the population went back to eating real foods and wholesome animal fats, we would have a very different kind of economy.
What you are saying about dietary fats contradicts every modern dietary philosophy, except, perhaps, the Atkins Diet. What about McDonald's? About ten years ago they switched from coking their french fries in beef tallow to vegetable oil in response to health concerns about animal fats. In turn, they needed to add food flavorings to replace the famous beef taste. Did they get the whole thing wrong? And, if so, how do we know that you have it right?
In a nutshell, they got the whole thing wrong. The Lipid Hypothesis--that saturated fats and cholesterol from animal foods cause heart disease--is a phony hypothesis that withers under the light of honest scientific investigation.
Fast food french fries used to be fried in tallow which is a stable, healthy fat, perfect for frying. The official line is that it was removed "in response to health concerns" but the real reason for the switch is that vegetable oils are cheaper. . . and the vegetable oil lobby is much stronger than the beef lobby. The whole sordid story is told in "The Oiling of America" by Mary Enig and myself, posted at www.westonaprice.org.
To put this all in perspective, consider a book published in 1913 called The Story of Crisco. This was a cookbook given away free to thousands of American housewives. The message of the book--Crisco is cleaner, healthier, more enlightened, more upper class and more modern than butter and lard. In the introduction they even imply that children fed Crisco will have better characters. The chapter on the "science" of Crisco is patent gobbledygook. Then there are pages of recipes calling for Crisco in everything from lobster bisque to pound cake (yes, one pound of Crisco in the pound cake!)
When we look at this book today, with its quaint illustrations and phony science, we see how transparent a ploy it is and say to ourselves, how could they have fallen for this? Twenty years from now our offspring (if there are any left after eating all the imitation foods) will look at the incredible hype and scientific gobbledygook about margarine and spreads and cholesterol-lowering salad dressings and say to themselves, "This is so transparent, how could they have fallen for it!"
If what you say about animal fats is true--that they offer essential nutrition, and are not the cause of heart disease, cancers, and strokes--how does quality play a part? Or, is all milk the same?
The word "organic" is useful and has meaning for buying fruits, vegetables and grains, but for animal foods, it has been thoroughly debased. Horizon, for example, has most of its cows in confinement, yet it can call its milk organic. (It is also owned by a huge company, Suiza, that can dictate the prices farmers get. Suiza also sells soy milk, so they don't really care if fewer and fewer people drink milk.) Same with eggs, chicken, pork, etc. These can be called organic and "free-range" when the animals are always inside. What we really need is a "pasture-raised" label.
Healthy milk comes from cows that eat green grass. Ideally it should come from farms with very small herds. Getting organic certification is too expensive and too much of a hassle for these farmers. That is why we have never used the term "organic" when describing Real Milk. The best way to know about the quality of your milk is to visit the farm it comes from. Our system of local chapters and our Real Milk (RealMilk.com) website helps people connect with the farmers. Ultimately, the consumer must be the judge of the safety and quality of his food, not the government.
When it comes to agriculture, do you believe that the USDA's new organic standards will ensure the public with a quality food supply? I purchase raw milk from a 200 year-old family farm in my town that raises pasture-fed Guernsey cows, but is not certified organic. However, no pesticides have ever been used on the farm. On the other hand, I can buy a frozen dinner from any natural food store that is "certified" organic. How can a consumer make sense of all this?
The word "organic" is useful and has meaning for buying fruits, vegetables and grains, but for animal foods, it has been thoroughly debased. Horizon, for example, has most of its cows in confinement, yet it can call its milk organic. (It is also owned by a huge company, Suiza, that can dictate the prices farmers get. Suiza also sells soy milk, so they don't really care if fewer and fewer peopel drink milk.) Same with eggs, chicken, pork, etc. These can be called organic and "free-range" when the animals are always inside. What we really need is a "pasture-raised" label.
Healthy milk comes from cows that eat green grass. Ideally it should come from farms with very small herds. Getting organic certification is too expensive and too much of a hassle for these farmers. That is why we have never used the term "organic" when describing Real Milk. The best way to know about the quality of your milk is to visit the farm it comes from. Our system of local chapters and our RealMilk website helps people connect with the farmers. Ultimately, the consumer must be the judge of the safety and quality of his food, not the government.
What about the Biodynamic method of agriculture? That calls for pasture-raised animals, does it not?
Yes, the Biodynamic method stipulates that the cows have green grass throughout the warm months, and that the pastures be fertilized with composted manure. The Biodynamic farmers also understand that it is not good for the cow to be pushed to the udder limits of production. Some things about biodynamics may seem like voodoo to the scientifically oriented--like the use of the preps and keeping the horns on the cows so that they can "attract the cosmic forces"--but whether or not one accepts this part of the system, biodynamics is founded on a firm base and needs to be encouraged.
Your perspective on food and agriculture suggests that there's an entrepreneurial opportunity in high-quality, local farming. If so, how would you direct someone, for instance, who's inspired to trade-in their business suit for overalls?
There is an opportunity to make a decent living in high quality, grass-based farming, but not to make a fortune. And remember that farming is very hard work. I think, however, that when a farmer has customers he knows, and who benefit from his fine product, then farming can be very satisfying.
Recently the head of one of our local chapters decided to start a farm. He had no capital but was able to raise enough from the people who wanted grass-based dairy products. This fellow comes from a farming background so the project should be a success. He will do a cow-share program in which his customers actually own their own cows, but he takes care of them and does the milking. Also, he knows people who want to help him market his products. This is the kind of path I would suggest for those who want to go into farming.
What is ironic is that the corporate farming system so lauded by so-called "conservatives" was a central tenet of Marx's communist manifesto. Dictatorial governments hate small, independent farmers because when there are prosperous farms, the people can't be easily controlled. It means that there is solid capital at the grass roots, as opposed to capital being created out of nothing from above.
The agendas of the various political parties have become confused but we should keep in mind that fundamentally, there are only two types of economic systems, one in which millions and millions of people can make a decent living and one in which a few people make millions and millions of dollars and the rest of us are paupers. The best way to ensure that we have the former type of system is to purchase as much of our food as possible directly from conscientious farmers.
A great deal of what you say shines a light on the political control of food. In closing, where do you think concerned consumers should turn for support of clean, local farming and food production?
First and foremost, that is where they should spend their food dollars. A good way to find clean local food is to contact one of the local chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation. And for items unavailable locally, they can order directly from the many fine advertisers in our magazine Wise Traditions.
Already in just two years many items that had virtually disappeared are becoming more available- -beautiful high-vitamin butter from grass-fed cows, raw milk, pastured poultry and eggs and biodynamically grown vegetables. This movement will snowball, as more and more consumers realize the importance of healthy food.
What is occurring at the moment is a "natural selection of the wise." Those who begin to make the right food choices have a chance of regaining their health and producing children for the next generation. But those who continue to eat processed foods--and who continue to believe the lowfat propaganda-- will die out. The Weston A. Price Foundation was set up to provide accurate information for those who are seekers of the truth.
Re-published courtesy The Now Age Press @2001