Eat Like Your Ancestors Did
by Stephanie Small

In various posts I’ve referred to the power and potency of liver, the benefits of raw milk, and the importance of saturated fat – which is NOT associated with heart disease, despite a multi-decade smear campaign!

Why am I into these seemingly disjointed set of foods? The Weston A. Price Foundation. They’re a non-profit dedicated to reintroducing traditional, nutrient-dense foods to the mainstream diet. I’m the volunteer Chapter Leader for Boulder, CO.

So who is this Weston A. Price? I begin many of my talks by describing his work, and always enjoy watching as the audience leans forward, beginning to nod with understanding. He was a dentist practicing in Cleveland at the beginning of last century. Noticing that many of his patients were presenting with massive dental decay, he decided to embark on a world tour to identify the links between nutrition and physical degeneration. In fact, that’s what his subsequent tome is entitled. It’s worth a purchase if only for the graphic and telltale photos of grinning jaw after grinning jaw. 

Price explored eleven cultures spread across six different continents. Remarkably, at the time of his expedition, he was able to study the same gene pool in two different habitats, eating two different diets. He traveled to isolated villages where the inhabitants were still eating the same traditional foods they’d been eating for thousands of years. High in protein and fat, organic and local because…well…that’s how it was. Prepared using methods like sprouting, soaking, and fermenting, which made the nutrients more bioavailable and easily digested. Price observed that the individuals eating in this fashion tended to have a very low incidence of dental decay. Their teeth were marvelously strong. Covered with a green slime, certainly, as they did not brush. But strong. They also had round, beautifully formed faces and long, hardy bones, expressing true skeletal health. Their societies appeared rather peacable. And their immune systems functioned superbly.

Price compared these fine specimens with their neighbors down the road, in industrialized settings. Gone were the lovely cod’s heads stuffed with oats and mashed liver. In their place? Marmalade on toast. The city dwellers consumed what he termed “foods of commerce”: sugar and refined grains. Among these urbanites he found a high incidence of tooth decay, as well as rampant tuberculosis. Their immune systems were compromised, and the primary difference was diet. In generations born to the toast-and-marmalade crowd, Price observed crowded, crooked teeth and narrowed faces. Violence, theft, and other destructive behaviors were more prevalent, making a strong case for the connection between emotional and physical health.

It makes sense, right? Your ancestors lived closer to the Earth and had a better sense of what would nourish them. There was no food industry driven by profit. There was only what you grew in your garden, hunted in the woods, or raised in your fields – and the ancient methods of preparing these foods to maximize their nutrients and digestability. We no longer practice many of these techniques on a regular basis – and look at how it’s impacted our population.  Maybe it’s time to start reintroducing them, bit by bit.

News Bites
by author
  • Tom’s Weight Struggles: In an interview with the Washington Post, our new Secretary of Agriculture reveals that his family of origin struggled with addiction issues and that he was overweight as a child. “I have struggled mightily with food,” he says, “I don’t want youngsters to go through what I went through”. Though he does not appear to have clear-cut visions for school food reform, he states he plans to “find people who share my concern and have more expertise than I do” to improve children’s nutrition. Sounds good so far, Tom…
  • He’s Nuts: The Senate has unearthed emails from the owner of The Peanut Corporation of America basically pooh-poohing an employee’s warning about potential salmonella contamination. Nice to know he has our best interests at heart!
  • GO MARYLAND!!! This mellow little state may become the first to ban artificial food colorings! These toxins have been linked to hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children.
  • It Beets Bush’s Broccoli: Obama has been quoted as saying he avoids beets. Attempting to entice the President into consuming this powerful liver cleanser and antioxidant, one blog offers him some irresistible recipes including a dark chocolate and beet brownie.
  • Say WHAT?? A Pennsylvania Trans Fat Task Force (now THERE’S a cool idea for a superhero) has advised against a mandatory statewide ban on trans fat, cautioning it might cause suppliers to select even MORE harmful options as substitutions. Like what, cyanide? Fortunately the Center for Science in the Public Interest has urged officials to ignore them, but in the process, they slander saturated fat. Come on, it’s 2009. Let’s get over our prejudices and return to our ancestral way of eating…saturated fats are crucial for multiple biological processes. Don’t you want nice, sleek, juicy skin and organs?