The Weston A. Price Foundation challenges conventional nutrition wisdom
by Linda Joyce Forristal
We are in the midst of a burgeoning health crisis in this country, and some are beginning to suspect that the production, promotion and consumption of poor-quality and processed food are largely to blame.
Conventional packaged foods are filled with corn syrup and hydrogenated oils—just two of many "fake foods" I advise people to avoid—forcing nutrition-savvy shoppers to focus on fruit, vegetables, meats, and milk.
But due to the vast industrialization of agriculture even fresh foods are not at their optimum potential. Most—except organically grown foods—have been exposed to pesticides, hormones, and a growing list of synthetic chemicals employed to maximize profits. Declining soil health is another factor. These trends are coupled with the widespread misinformation about the value and role of dietary fats and a continuing decline in traditional food ways. Ironically, while everybody wants to eat good food and are amateur restaurant critics, few people are clear about what constitutes good food or how to prepare it for their own table.
Gradually, I was forced to "forage" outside supermarkets for the best foods and seek the truth about nutrition outside the academic/governmental mainstream. Eventually, I even had to look beyond the advice offered by most sources of alternative nutrition information.
Weston Price: Taking Nutrition Forward into the Past
My quest for time-tested nutrition wisdom led me to the work of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I was cruising the aisles of a health fair in Bethesda, Maryland, when I spied a brightly covered book lying on an otherwise empty table. The yellow cover caught my eye, but the title caught my attention: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats. As it turns out, the author, Sally Fallon, couldn’t make it to the show that day so sent her book as ambassador (Sally is shown in the photo accompanying this article, preparing a nutritious chicken broth).
I would soon learn that Sally’s insightful cookbook is the new "bible" of the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization dedicated to spreading the nutritional findings of visionary researcher Weston A. Price, DDS. The foundation advocates accurate nutritional education, particularly in regards to the vital role of animal fats in human nutrition.
In the 1930s, Price saw more and more patients with dental caries, palate deformities, and crowded/crooked teeth in his Cleveland based dental practice. At the same time, he heard of isolated populations with excellent dental health and theorized that diet played a role. To see for himself, Price visited fourteen indigenous peoples over the next decade: populations that had not yet been impacted by what he called the "displacing foods of modern commerce." These groups had excellent dental health (no cavities, no crowded teeth), and excellent overall health, generation after generation.
Price found commonalities among the diets of all the various indigenous peoples he visited. At that point in time, none ate refined or denatured (heavily processed) foods and animal products were prominent. He also discovered these primitive diets contained four times more calcium and other minerals and ten times more fat-soluble vitamins than the modern American diet does. Depending on the setting—whether mountainous like Switzerland or an island in the South Pacific—they also consumed many foods now shunned as unhealthful, such as butterfat from grazing cows, eggs from pastured chickens, liver and other organ meats, lard, shellfish, roe, and fish liver oils (e.g., cod liver oil).
Sally Fallon and the WAPF: Nourishing a Worthy Tradition
Back home, Price wrote a monumental tome—Nutrition and Physical Degenerationto chronicle his travels and discoveries. This book, what I call the original bible of the foundation, is kept in print by the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation (PPNF), which was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in San Francisco. Although the Weston A. Price Foundation is only in its infancy compared to PPNF, it already has almost 200 chapters around the world and its membership is growing at a rapid rate.
This has a lot to do with the WAPF’s leadership. Sally Fallon, president and founder, has been long been inspired by Price’s work and even served on the board of the PPNF for a while. But, dissatisfied with its lack of outreach, she decided to start her own organization to promote and carry on the work of Price, and penned her own cookbook to delve into his philosophies and codify them with nourishing recipes.
On his deathbed in 1948, Price’s last words were, "You teach, you teach, you teach," a philosophy adopted by the foundation and taken to heart by Fallon, who keeps up a rigorous speaking schedule. An articulate, poised and engaging speaker, she is ever optimistic as she presents Price’s insights melded with her own ideas about how the nutritional situation can be turned around.
Sally multiplies her educational efforts through the dissemination of simple, accurate, easy-to-understand WAPF materials on nutrition and health. To order them (at nominal fees), complete the form found here, and send it to the address indicated there. The core WAPF publications include these:
The foundation also has an extensive and growing system of local chapters that bring people in contact with small family-owned farms and other like-minded food purveyors, and help these small food producers find prosperity through direct sales to consumers. The foundation encourages everyone to meet and buy from local producers whenever possible.
- The 12-page "Weston A. Price Informational Brochure" spells out the foundation’s stance on the beneficial role of the right fats, bone broths, and lacto-fermented foods and the dangers of new-fangled products like soy "milk" and tofu.
- Three tri-fold brochures address the dangers of soy in more depth, the merits of raw milk, and a diet to protect against cancer: "Soy Alert!," "A Campaign for Real Milk," and "How to Protect Yourself Against Cancer with Food."
- The foundation’s popular quarterly journal Wise Traditions goes out to all WAPF members. (To join, go here.) Wise Traditions is not only chock full of fascinating cutting-edge nutrition articles, but also has a great networking section of advertisements in the back allowing farmers and purveyors selling nutritious back-to-the-basics foods and services to directly connect to customers. (This journal is so popular that several back issues are sold out.)
Vital Choice: A Vital Part of the "Wise Traditions" Picture
I believe we have only seen the beginning of the "Wise Traditions" movement initiated by Dr. Price. It is inevitable that in the quest for health, more and more people will be forced to abandon traditional food distribution systems and embrace buying the best foods available directly from organic farmers and independently owned companies dedicated to excellence—companies like Vital Choice.
I first met Vital Choice owner Randy Hartnell when he emailed me about my article "Is Something Fishy Going On?" He told me that it helped him decide he could better serve the world by selling wild salmon, not just fishing for it as he had done for two decades. He started Vital Choice to sell Alaskan wild salmon, one of the few sustainable and truly natural nutrient-dense foods left on earth. (Wild salmon has all the right fats, too.)
I applaud Randy’s efforts, as I know Weston A. Price would, as Vital Choice is among a growing group of companies that are offering the best quality food available directly to a public eager for "real food."
For more information contact:
Weston A. Price Foundation
4200 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20016
Linda Joyce Forristal, CCP, MTA, joined the board of the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2000. She writes about food, travel and tourism from Washington, DC. To see more of her interests, cruise over to www.motherlindas.com.