The huge storm that struck the Eastern United States is a sobering reminder of the power of nature. The storm has brought an early winter to much of the nation, causing intense cold and snowstorms in some areas.
Our ancestors had a number of traditional foods that they used to help them survive the long, cold winters. These time-tested traditional dishes kept people warm and filled their bodies with the nutrients needed to deal with the demands of winter. They were also delicious. My family has adopted the custom of having lots of bone broth, stews, pot roasts. and the occasional celebratory roast for a special occasion. We use only grassfed or pastured meats for this purpose. Not only do we enjoy the wonderful tastes of traditional food, but we stay healthy, without medication. Our ancestors had a lot of wisdom.
I have described some of these traditions in an article I posted on Handpicked Nation. Here is the link:
Salt is one of the most vital human nutrients, and our ancestors knew this. Yet, the consumption of salt is now under attack.
The government is trying to reduce the amount of salt people consume, claiming that it will improve health and prevent strokes and heart disease.
Part of the Paleo movement is opposed to adding salt to food, believing that our Paleolithic ancestors did not add salt to food.
Many people believe salt is very harmful.
Because I advise against pre-salting grassfed meat in my cookbooks, some people assume I do this to reduce salt consumption.
All of these beliefs are mistaken. If we do not consume enough salt, our bodies do not function properly. Ultimately, if people do not get enough salt, they die.
The Two Types of Salt
While all salt originally came from the sea, it is available in different forms. It must be understood that two general types of salt are available. They are not the same.
The most common salt is factory salt, which is composed of salt that has been stripped of its minerals, and has had chemicals and flavoring agents (often including sugar) added. This salt is a pure white color. It is ground very fine and flows easily out of a salt shaker, almost never caking. This kind of salt did not exist before the twentieth century. This is by far the most common form of salt in the United States, used extensively in processed foods and by most people, who are usually unaware that the minerals have been stripped out, or that chemicals and even sugar have been added to the refined salt.
Then there is pure, unmodified salt from nature, often harvested from the sea, though it is also found in solid deposits on land. This salt, consisting of nothing but sea salt and minerals, is the traditional salt that humanity has used since the beginning. This traditional salt is the only salt I use or recommend.
Humans Have Added Salt to Food Since the Earliest Times
The belief that early humans did not add salt to food is mistaken. I remember reading about how the early colonists of the United States would choose a site for settlement. They would always have someone, usually a skilled hunter or scout, follow some of the wild animal trails in the area. They were looking for one thing they absolutely had to have, or they would not settle in that area—salt. Wild animals also need salt, and they would find salt deposits, usually called “salt licks.” The animals would find salt deposits, and get their salt by licking them. There is every reason to believe that early hunters and gatherers did the same, and found salt by following wild animals or their trails.
All the old writings on cooking, including those going back thousands of years, describe the addition of salt to food. Salt was greatly valued in ancient times, being more expensive than gold in some areas.
The reason is quite simple. Our ancestors knew that they needed to add salt to their food to live and thrive.
Our ancestors used salt to preserve and ferment foods, and created many artisanal foods based on the use of salt, including sauerkraut, ham, cheese, jerky, sausage, and countless others. Our ancestors ate far more salt than we do.
Why We Need Salt
Salt is one of the most crucial nutrients we need. Our bodies use salt for many body functions, including digestion, regulating blood pressure, creating and regulating hormones, proper adrenal function, proper functioning of the nervous system, and proper functioning of the brain, among others. (See The Salt of the Earth.)
If we do not get enough salt, these vital body functions are adversely effected. If you were to put anyone on a totally salt-free diet, they would eventually die, after much suffering.
We often crave salt, because our bodies so desperately need it. If you crave salt, it may be that you are not getting enough.
Is Salt Good? Or Bad? Or Both?
There is a belief in mainstream medicine, supported by some research, that associates salt intake with increased risk of heart disease or strokes. There is other research that disputes this theory, and shows great harm occurring from salt restriction. (See The Salt of the Earth.)
In the past when heart disease and strokes were very rare, traditional peoples and most humans consumed much more salt than people do today. And we know that the Japanese, who have the highest average salt consumption on earth, have among the highest average lifespans on earth.
So how do we know what is true, when the research is conflicting and history contradicts some of the research?
My own personal, anecdotal, common sense belief is this:
The difference may be in the type of salt consumed. Prior to the twentieth century, all the salt consumed on earth was traditional salt, without chemical additives, with the natural minerals left in. I believe that this kind of salt is not harmful, and is vital to our health. The studies done that support the idea that salt increases the risk of stroke and heart disease were all done at a time when factory salt was used. These studies are only relevant to the use of factory salt. To the extent that studies have found harm from salt consumption, it may be because of the chemicals, or the fact the minerals are stripped out, or both. So my own personal belief is that it is good, and important, to eat all the traditional salt I want, without fear. At the same time, I avoid factory salt as much as possible.
Please be aware that I am not a doctor, or a scientist, and I am not legally qualified to give any kind of health advice to anyone, so I am not giving advice—just stating my personal belief and what I do.
I do feel that the salt restriction now being pushed by the government, part of the medical profession, and the food industry is ill-advised, and I base this belief on history, and the excellent research done in this article, which I highly recommend. (See The Salt of the Earth.)
Salt and Grassfed Meat
I advise against salting most grassfed meat too far in advance. This advice is given solely because I have found that long pre-salting tends to toughen some grassfed meats. I do use plenty of traditional salt at the table, and will often salt meat just before it is cooked. The right amount of salt really brings out the flavor of food, and is absolutely vital to the taste, nutrition, and flavor of homemade broth.
I do enjoy the salt of the earth, and I do not fear it.
The poor academic performance of so many American schoolchildren is a matter of great concern. Over the years, more and more money has been spent on schools. Many programs to enhance education have been introduced. Class sizes have been substantially reduced. Many teachers have aides to help them teach. A host of administrators, counselors, special educators, and other specialists have been hired. Despite recent cutbacks, the amount of real money per child spent today is much higher than it was during my schooldays, yet the academic results are far worse.
It is clear that throwing more money to the schools will not fix the problem. We have been doing that for many years, and performance continues to decline. Money for education is important, but it is not enough.
Academic performance continues to decline, and the U.S. is far behind many other countries, nearly all of whom spend far less money per child on education. Why? Whose fault is it? The teachers? The schoolchildren? The curriculum? The parents? My answer would be—none of the above.
I am convinced that the real cause of poor academic performance is the Standard American Diet, known as SAD. The fact of the matter is that schoolchildren need proper nutrition for their brains to develop and function well, and many of them are not getting it.
SAD makes some kids appear to have learning disabilities. But the problem could be solved by feeding children the foods they need for their brains to develop and function well. The food is animal fat. The most demonized, yet the most desperately needed food of all
The Brain Needs Traditional Animal Fats to Develop and Function Well
Traditional animal fats such as butter, lard, beef tallow, chicken skins, fatty fish, and others are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for the brain to develop and function properly. It is that simple. Cholesterol is desperately needed by the brain to function properly. In fact, mother’s milk is higher in cholesterol than any other food. Nature recognizes the need of children for cholesterol, and so should we.
Yes, cholesterol and animal fats have been demonized through massive marketing campaigns. The demonization is just not true. These vital nutrients promote good health, and are vital for survival. See The Skinny on Fats.
The current emphasis on avoiding animal fats and cholesterol deprives children of the nutrients they need for their brains to develop properly and function. How can they possibly learn and do well in school when they are starved of the nutrients they need for their brains to function properly? How can they be expected to behave well when their brains are deprived of the very nutrients needed to keep them in balance? The effect of nutrition on the brain and learning is described by Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in this excellent article: Nutrition and Mental Development.
Vegetable oils and factory fats lack cholesterol and lack omega-3 fatty acids. These oils and fats have a huge imbalance of omega-6 fatty acids that can cause inflammation and have other harmful effects. When you substitute vegetable oils and factory fats for animal fats, the children do not get the vital nutrients they need for their brains. It is that simple.
This problem is especially bad for children who depend on the government for food. The government provides free formula to two million infants. Yet the only formula allowed in the program is made from GMO soy, which contains a number of toxins and none of the vital fatty acids needed by developing brains.
The revised school lunch program only makes things worse, being virtually fat-free and severely restricting protein. It is a prescription for malnutrition and even poorer academic performance.
Real Food Has Improved Academic Performance in the Past
It stands to reason that giving the children the very nutrients they are deprived of, the animal fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and cholesterol are exactly what are needed. This has been done before, with great results.
Last week, I wrote of the school lunch program devised by Dr. Weston A. Price, and the wonderful results it had for some poor children. These children ate an early form of SAD—factory bread and pancakes served with lots of sugar and syrup. They had terrible teeth, poor health, and did terribly in school. Some had severe behavior problems. Dr. Price fed them a lunch rich in animal fat and meat, including plenty of bone marrow and butter. Not only did their dental decay stop cold, but two of their teachers sought Dr. Price out to ask why a particular child, who had been the worst student in the class, had now become the best student.
All that Dr. Price changed was the food they ate at one meal. The schools, parents, teachers, and children did not change. Good nutrition alone was all they needed to go from being complete academic failures to being the best student in the class.
This is only one example. There have been many description of how feeding schoolchildren a diet rich in traditional foods during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries greatly improved their academic performance and behavior in school. Many of the educators who worked with poor children made sure they arranged a good lunch for them as a vital pre-condition for their being able to learn. It should be mentioned that the healthy peoples studied by Dr. Price, all of whom had diets rich in animal fats and cholesterol, had no mental illness, and no problems in educating their children, who had to learn skills that were far harder to use and master than the easy-to-do tasks typical of modern life.
A Solution Worth Trying
The solution I suggest to fix U.S. schools is new, yet very old. Have an affordable school lunch program that will present students with foods rich in traditional fats such as butter, whole eggs, full-fat hormone-free milk, rich meats, bone marrow, and other animal foods that nourish the brain. Give them generous servings, and let them have seconds if they want to. Ban all GMOs, vegetable oils, and factory foods from the program. Give them real food only. If we do this, we can expect the same kind of vast improvement that was noted by Dr. Price, so many years ago. Yes, it will cost money, yet I submit that there is no better area to spend the money on. With proper nourishment, there is every reason to expect that children will be able to focus on school and learn. It has been done, time and time again. Clearly, the current system is not working. Real food is worth a try, and will have other benefits, such as good health and better behavior. It worked for Dr. Price and others, and it can work now.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is misnamed. This act mandated the recent unpopular changes to the U.S. school lunch program. The act imposes an almost vegan diet on all children in the program. The lunches are composed almost entirely of plant-based foods, with fat and protein being severely limited. Many parents and students have complained that the students are hungry and unsatisfied. Many, if not most, of the students throw out the factory fruits and vegetables that they are placed on their trays in the lunch line. Many have trouble paying attention to their classes, because they are hungry. Rather than fighting hunger, this program is causing hunger.
But it is possible to design a school lunch program that will provide excellent nourishment to children, improving their health, and even their school work. Such a program was designed by Dr. Weston A. Price, many years ago.
If his program was followed today, the health and performance of our schoolchildren would both increase greatly.
The Problem to Be Solved—Poor Children with Severe Tooth Decay
Dr. Price had decided to study the nutrition of children in a poor area. The depression had hit this area very hard, and the quality of food that families could afford was very low, The diet consisted of coffee, and grain-based foods such as white bread, pancakes, doughnuts, all heavily sweetened with sugar and syrup, along with vegetable oils. The children in this area were suffering from severe dental decay, showed many markers of poor health, and did poorly in their schoolwork.
The Solution—A Great Nutritious Lunch
Dr. Price designed a study to see if the health and schoolwork of these children would improve if given a diet based on his nutritional studies.
Dr. Price arranged for a number of these children to receive a lunch at a local mission, for six days a week. Detailed records were kept of the children’s height, weight, and dental condition, as well as their grades in school. The food they ate at home was unchanged. The only difference is that the children were given a meal designed by Dr. Price.
The menu is as follows:
Meat and Bone Marrow Stew
The main item on the menu was a very rich stew, made up mostly of bone marrow and fine cuts of meat. The meat was broiled very quickly to retain the nutrients, finely chopped, then added to the rest of the stew which was described as a bone marrow and meat broth. The stew also included various finely chopped vegetables, always including carrots. The recipe for my version of this stew is in Tender Grassfed Meat. A full pint of this stew was given to the children on most days. On a few days, for variety, organ meats or a rich fish chowder were substituted for the stew. The meat and bone marrow the children were given were from pastured animals, as factory meat did not exist at that time.
The children were given two glasses of full-fat milk, which was almost certainly raw.
Rolls Made from Freshly Ground Whole Wheat, Served with Plenty of Rich Butter
The wheat for these rolls was made from freshly ground whole wheat, and the rolls were spread thickly with rich butter. The wheat was ground just before the rolls were made.
The children also received a helping of what was described as cooked fruit, with very little sweetening.
The children were given one teaspoon of a mixture that was made from high vitamin cod liver oil, and high vitamin butter oil.
It is interesting that no raw fruits or vegetables were served. Most of the calories in this meal were from animal fat, and the meal was largely based on fatty animal foods.
This is the exact opposite of the almost vegan diet mandated by the U.S. school lunch program, which is based almost totally on fruits and vegetables, with almost no fat or protein allowed. Many of the fruits and vegetables served in the school lunch program are raw, and calories are severely restricted.
Many of the children who are on the current school lunch program stuff themselves with candy, chips, and fast food as soon as they get out of school, because they are hungry. Student athletes have reported passing out during practice, because they are not getting enough food.
So, which diet was better for children?
Regular saliva testing was done on the children in Dr. Price’s program. Within six weeks, the children had changed from a condition of rampant and severe dental decay to a condition where no further dental decay was indicated. Every child who was on this program had their dental decay stop and be completely controlled. Two of the children’s teachers came to Dr. Price to ask him what he had done. Each teacher spoke of a different particular child who had been one of the worst students in the class, but was now the best student. The behavior of the children in school also improved greatly. Dr. Price mentioned that there had been other such incidents and other improvements, but he did not describe them in detail in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
If the government really wants to improve the health of children in the school lunch program, I suggest they adopt the program devised by Doctor Price.
Sometimes, knowing the truth can make you feel lonely and isolated.
Almost everyone who has switched to real food and grassfed meat knows what I mean. Nearly everyone you know eats factory food, and considers it normal. Most people accept what the media, the medical profession, the food industry, and conventional belief tell them about food. And when you reject factory food, you are often alone. People, especially family members, can get very angry at you, especially at social occasions when you will not eat what they eat. Or when you will not let your children eat the candy and other factory foods they want to give them. At the same time, they will be horrified that you actually eat saturated animal fat, plenty of real red meat, and butter. I have lost count of the times that friends and family members have claimed that my real food diet will cause all kinds of fatal diseases. Some of your friends and family may even consider you crazy.
In fact, the very fact of trying to eat only clean, wholesome food has been described as a mental disorder. See Eating Healthy Is a Mental Disorder? Nonsense.
It takes real courage to step out of the herd, to think for yourself, to learn and adopt a better way of eating. And it has consequences, both social and personal.
But take heart. Eventually, the truth that most people now reject will become accepted. The time will come when the truth about real food and grassfed meat will overcome the lies and biased studies that keep people eating factory food. But only if enough people stand strong and keep to their principles.
This is not a fantasy. I have had an experience where my “crazy” belief eventually became the conventional belief.
The Truth about Second-Hand Smoke
Second-hand smoke is tobacco smoke that you do not inhale from a cigarette or cigar, but inhale from the air. As a matter of common sense, tobacco smoke is tobacco smoke, and breathing it into your lungs will do harm, whether you get it from the air, or from a cigarette.
But many years ago, the tobacco companies funded studies that claimed that second-hand smoke was completely harmless. And these studies were accepted as absolute fact, by almost everybody.
When I was eleven years old, almost everybody believed that second-hand smoke was harmless because of the studies. But second-hand smoke made me choke and wheeze, I was more sensitive to it than most people. When I was exposed to it, and breathed it in, I hacked and coughed and could not control it. My parents were concerned the first time this happened, and took me to a doctor. The doctor told them that second-hand smoke could not possibly harm me, and that I was “faking it.” If only that was true. My parents believed anything any doctor told them. They got very angry at me, and threatened severe punishments if I did not “stop it.”
Later that week, my father’s second-cousin, who had a PhD in something, visited our home. He started smoking, filling the air with second-hand smoke. I tried hard not to choke and cough, but my efforts failed. The PhD pronounced that my cough did not sound “real.” I said the smoke was choking me. He stated that studies proved conclusively that second-hand smoke had no effect on anyone, and that I must be faking it. He told my parents that I should see a psychiatrist. As far as my parents were concerned, that was the final word. After all, he was a PhD. They refused to listen to me, and I was severely punished.
Seeing the psychiatrist made things even worse. He insisted that the studies proved that second-hand smoke could not affect anyone, and that I was faking it for other reasons. Since I knew I was not faking anything, and that the smoke made me choke, I would not “confess,” which angered him. He finally told my parents that I would not cooperate and was defying him. Fortunately, psychotropic drugs were not routinely given to children at that time. However, my parents inflicted more punishments on me, but no amount of punishment could stop me from choking and coughing when I breathed second-hand smoke. My parents lost all respect for me, and treated me with contempt. We became adversaries, and I was very unhappy. I thought something was wrong with me, that I was a bad person. It terrified me to think that I might be faking it without even knowing it. At the age of eleven, I began to believe that I was crazy, to some degree. My schoolwork and social life suffered greatly, because I was not the same child.
When I became a young adult and made my own decisions, it suddenly hit me that I was the only one who could possibly know how tobacco smoke affected me. No matter what those studies found, they did not study me. I decided that what I experienced had to be real–for me.
I avoided tobacco smoke whenever I could, and breathed as shallowly as possible when I could not. On social occasions, I politely asked people not to smoke, telling them I was sensitive to it. Many people would agree to what I asked, and many would not. I lost a lot of potential friendships that way, but I stayed true to what I had learned from my own experience.
Over the years, many people who suffered from second-hand smoke came to realize that the studies were wrong. They organized and made their voices heard. They got the attention of some scientists, who began to reinvestigate the issue. These people held their ground and insisted that what they had was not a mental illness, but actual harm from second-hand smoke.
Many years later, the fact that second-hand smoke is almost as harmful as smoking was proved without doubt. All the biased studies paid for by the tobacco companies were wrong. Laws that restricted smoking were passed to protect people from this harmful second-hand smoke. I had been right, all along, even when I was an eleven-year-old boy.
The truth about second-hand smoke finally broke through the deception and biased studies, and became accepted.
The same will happen to the truth about real food. The sooner the better.
The Truth about Real Food Will Come Out
If you try to eat only real food, and to protect your family and children from factory food, you may feel alone. But you are not alone. There are more of us every day, and the movement is growing. Keep going with what you know is true, and do not be discouraged by the lack of knowledge of those around you. They have received a huge amount of propaganda designed to keep them eating factory food, and they get more of this propaganda every day.
And something wonderful is happening. The biotech industry financed a number of studies claiming that GMOs were harmless and the same as other food. This is the reason behind the fact that GMOs are not labeled. Yet an initiative that will require the labeling of foods containing GMOs is on the California ballot this November, and is still winning in the polls despite the massive marketing campaign against it that has been financed by Monsanto and other giants in the biotech and food industries. You can find out more about how to support Proposition 37 at: Yes on Prop 37.
I encourage you to politely and calmly continue to do your reasonable best to eat real food, and reject factory food, when possible. Eating real food is much better, and the fact that most people do not know this does not change the truth about food.
The more people who know about real food and spread the word, the sooner our truth will spread. And the day will come when everyone knows the truth about food. And that will be a great day for everyone except a few greedy corporations.