If you study the history of food, and read what contemporary people wrote and said about it, you will be struck by one inevitable fact—our ancestors considered fat a vital nutrient, and loved to eat it. The only bad thing about fat was the difficulty in obtaining it, as it was often expensive and hard to get.
This fact is shocking to modern people, who have been subject to a propaganda campaign that labeled most fat as bad, unhealthy, and the cause of most illness. This propaganda campaign began in the 1960s, and became accepted as absolute fact in the 1980s. Even though there never was any real evidence to support the all-animal-fat-is-bad theory, nearly everyone believed it. Even today, most people believe that fat, especially saturated animal fat, is bad for health and should be restricted.
This belief remains common even though it has never been proven and many studies and much research has totally discredited it.
Now, I am not a doctor, or a nutritionist, or a scientist. But I am an attorney, and I have been one for a very long time. Attorneys are experts in evaluating evidence. I have evaluated the available evidence on fat, and it is my opinion that animal fat from healthy animals eating their natural diet is one of the healthiest, most vital, and most needed foods we can eat.
The Case Against Traditional Animal Fat
The claim that fat is bad and causes illness began with the infamous “lipid hypothesis “developed after World War II. This unproven theory tried to connect cholesterol with heart disease, and eating fat with the creation of excess cholesterol.
This theory was of great benefit to the makers of factory vegetable fats and modified foods, who had to find a way to get Americans to drop the healthy traditional foods of their ancestors, so they would buy the new products. It also created a whole new set of illnesses and medical conditions, which increased revenue for the medical profession and the drug industry. These powerful forces supported the lipid hypothesis and the related belief that eating saturated animal fat caused too much cholesterol, and therefore, heart disease. Since eating factory foods makes people fat, a huge diet industry grew and added its money and power to the propaganda campaign. Eventually, these industries were able to persuade most people and institutions that eating traditional animal fats caused many other illnesses. Since these industries have a great deal of influence over government, they were able to get government agencies to support the fat and cholesterol myths.
A number of careful reviews of the studies supporting the lipid hypothesis have shown that there is no real evidence to support the theory. The same is true of the theory that eating animal fat is unhealthy. A number of these reviews are available at the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation. The lipid hypothesis is believed not because it is true, but because it has been marketed so effectively.
The Case for Traditional Animal Fat
Human history and even animal history establishes conclusively that traditional animal fat is a vital nutrient. The very first part of the animal eaten by predators is the fatty liver, followed by the other fatty organs. Caves which sheltered prehistoric peoples are full of bones that have been cracked open to get at the fatty marrow. Nearly every traditional people valued natural animal fat as one of their most important foods. Pemmican, the traditional survival food of the Native Americans who lived on the Great Plains, was one-third bison fat. European poets wrote poems about their love and appreciation for fatty foods. There are countless other examples.
Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and researcher, became aware that each generation of his patients had worse teeth than the preceding generation. He noticed how healthy some traditional peoples seemed to be. He decided to visit a number of them, all over the globe, and learn what made them healthy. Dr. Price was convinced that nutrition was the key, and expected to find that these people were vegetarians. He spent ten years travelling the world, visiting these healthy peoples in person and learning what they ate, and did not eat.
He learned that none of them were vegetarians, and all of them relied heavily on what he called sacred foods—which were always foods rich in animal fats, including butter, the back fat of moose, fish eggs, seal blubber, cod livers, milk that had six times the fat content of American milk, and other similar foods.
These people were healthy, having perfect teeth, no degenerative diseases, no mental illness, and no birth defects. When the very same people began to eat the processed foods of civilization, their health collapsed, they lost their teeth, and became the victim of many horrible illnesses, like tuberculosis.
Dr. Price had thousands of traditional foods studied in labs, and concluded that the most important nutrients were found in traditional foods rich in animal fat.
I find Dr. Price’s research convincing, and adopting a high animal fat diet based on his research brought me from being very ill to being free of all illness.
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.
By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue
Grassfed bison meat is a healthy, basic human food that is valued by the Primal, Paleo, and Price movements. photo credit: puroticorico
The question has arisen recently on various blogs about whether the teachings of Dr. Weston A. Price are compatible with the Paleo and Primal movements. A similar question has been raised as to whether the Weston A. Price Foundation and its members are hostile to the Paleo and Primal movements.
I have studied Dr. Price’s work for years, so much so that my copy of his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, has literally fallen apart. I have been a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation for years. I have followed a Weston A. Price style diet for over six years. I have read and studied almost every article on the vast website of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I have designed my cookbooks to be completely compatible with the teachings of Dr. Price. I have strongly advocated the Weston A. Price style of eating on my blog, and still do.
Though I am a member, I do not speak for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Nobody speaks for the Foundation except its officers, officially designated spokespeople, and board members. I speak for myself.
I consider the teachings of Dr. Price to be compatible with a number of Paleo and Primal diets.
I support, respect, and admire the Paleo and Primal movements.
We have so much in common. We are all looking for an alternative to the horrible modern diet which has destroyed the health of so many people. We all reject modern processed foods in favor of real food, food that humans have thrived on for uncounted years. We are all trying to base our diets on the wisdom of our ancestors. So many of us have had amazing health benefits from following the food wisdom of our ancestors. We are natural allies. We should unite politically to protect our access to real food. We should support, encourage, share what we know, and learn from each other. And many of us have been doing exactly that.
The Many Diets of Doctor Price
As many of us know, Dr. Price traveled the world for ten years, visiting and studying various peoples who were eating the traditional diets of their ancestors. Each one of these traditional people had relatives who were eating a modern diet in a nearby town or city, so Dr. Price was able to compare the teeth and health of those who ate traditional food to those who ate modern food. Dr. Price found that the people eating their traditional diets had perfect teeth, despite having no dental care, and were free of the modern chronic diseases that cripple and kill so many people in modern cultures, both then and today. In other words, they had no cancer, no heart disease, no birth defects, not arthritis, no asthma, no allergies, no tuberculosis, none of the modern chronic diseases. They were so much healthier than we are, in so many ways. Yet, the relatives of those people, if they made the terrible mistake of eating modern foods, lost their teeth, and suffered from all of the chronic modern diseases, unlike their cousins who ate like their ancestors.
No two of the diets studied by Dr. Price were alike. There were peoples who ate traditionally prepared grains and dairy, along with meat and vegetables. There were peoples who ate meat, dairy, and vegetables, but no grains. There were peoples who ate only the animals they hunted, and ate no dairy, grains, or vegetables. Most of these peoples ate wild seafood, but some had no access to it. All of these peoples were healthy and free of chronic disease, with perfect teeth. And they had essentially no modern medical care, and no dentistry. So we know for a fact that all of these ancestral diets worked wonderfully for human beings.
Yet, all of these diets had something in common. They all ate meat, and they all consumed large amounts of animal fat, and/or fish fat. They all fermented various foods, a process that both preserved foods and increased the nutritional value. They all had sacred foods, foods that they valued above all others. These sacred foods were rich in animal or fish fat, including such items as organ meats, fish eggs, and butter. None of these peoples ate modern processed foods, even the kinds that were available in the 1930s.
So you can follow the research results of Dr. Price, and eat or avoid a wide variety of foods. You do not have to eat grains. You do not have to eat dairy. As long as you eat real, unmodified food, and eat plenty of natural animal fat, and avoid modern processed foods, you are on the path. You can also add in traditionally prepared grains and/or dairy, and still be on the path. It depends on how you respond to various foods, what you can get, how much work you are willing to put into it, and the condition of your body. The choice is yours, and I respect your right to make it.
The Many Diets of Paleo and Primal
There is no single Paleo or Primal diet. There are dozens of variations. Some allow some dairy and/or grains. Some do not. These diets are constantly evolving and changing as more is learned, a healthy and vital process that is great for the movement. Yet, all of these diets seek to eat the foods that our ancestors thrived on, and look to the wisdom of our ancestors in choosing food. Many of them seek to eat foods similar to those eaten before the advent of agriculture. No one knows for sure what Paleolithic people ate. We can make some pretty good guesses, based on what people without agriculture or herds have eaten in recorded history, and based on what some of the peoples studied by Dr. Price ate. Some of the details of what we do know are surprising. For example, some people who had no dairy animals ate animal milk. They did so by killing female animals, and eating the milk they found in the body. They would also kill young animals, such as bison calves, and eat the milk they found in the digestive system of the animal. We know that the Native Americans did this, and there is no reason to believe that any people who lived by hunting did not do the same. My point is that ancestral eating covers a huge range of foods.
I have spent a huge amount of time lurking on various Paleo and Primal blogs, and reading a huge number of articles. It is clear to me that no one in the movement actually wants to dig in the earth for bugs, or grab a spear and hunt for mammoth. The focus is on eating the foods of our ancestors, the foods we have eaten for a very long time, the foods that our bodies are accustomed to, the foods that we thrive on. That is a wonderful goal, and I share it.
What Does the Weston A. Price Foundation Actually Do about Paleo and Primal?
I am speaking only from my own observations, as I do not speak for the Weston A. Price Foundation. As I see it, the view of WAPF has changed with the evolvement and change of the Paleo and Primal movements.
The initial book by Dr. Cordain advocated a low-fat diet, which was totally opposed to the teachings of Dr. Price, and the book was not well received for that reason, and others. But many in the Paleo and Primal movements understand the value of traditional animal fats, and even Dr. Cordain has backed off that position. One of the things I love about these movements is the willingness to learn and change as more is discovered. And these changes in position have had an impact.
I think it is the most recent actions of WAPF that are most relevant to the issue. In March 2012, my friend Sarah Pope, a member of the board of the Weston A. Price Foundation, attended the PaleoFX12 convention is Austin, Texas, as a representative of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Sarah took part in a panel discussion, had a wonderful time, and had her picture taken with some Paleo leaders, such as Robb Wolf and Nora Gedgaudas. She wrote two positive blog posts about the conference, and mentioned how the Paleo movement “has much in common with the nutritional principles of Dr. Price.” It is clear that the hand of friendship was extended and accepted. And that is exactly the way it should be.
The Paleo, Primal, and Price Movements Are Already Learning from each Other
Anyone who reads a number of Paleo blogs knows that many Paleo people like the teachings of Dr. Price and WAPF, and have adopted some of the traditional methods of food preparation taught by WAPF. In fact, I have seen a great deal of praise for Price and WAPF methods on many Primal blogs and forums. Conversely, many Price followers have learned from the Primal and Paleo communities and changed their diets. I have three good friends who have followed a WAPF diet for years. They have experienced great health benefits, but have had some bad problems at times. All three of my friends have modified their diets by adopting some Paleo principles, including avoiding grains, and have had wonderful results with their customized “Price-Paleo” diets.
I myself have adopted some Paleo and Primal ideas in what I eat, and the results have been great!
All of us are individuals, we are all different, and what works for some may not work for all. But friendship between the Paleo, Primal, and Price movements benefits all of us.
I am grateful for the Weston A. Price Foundation, whose priceless knowledge enabled me to save my life and restore my health. And I am grateful to the Paleo and Primal movements, which have inspired so many people to reject SAD and adopt ancestral eating, and has taught me some valuable lessons.
By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Earth Day was created to appreciate and encourage the preservation of the natural blessings of our planet. Perhaps the greatest threat to our planet and ourselves is the massive loss of good soil that has been going on since the last century. Without good soil, most life cannot ultimately survive. The attack on our soil has been led by the chemical industry, and factory farmers who abuse the land, killing the very life in the soil, causing erosion, and a reduction in usable water. Massive soil erosion leads to deserts. Yet it is not too late to save and restore our soil.
Conventional science, with its incomplete knowledge and obsessive focus on grants and profits, is not going to save us. In fact, it is the products of conventional science, such as pesticides, artificial fertilizers, modified plants and germs, and massive chemical pollution from artificial chemicals that are the greatest cause of the problem. But nature itself can save us, if we have the humility and wisdom to follow nature’s laws.
Nature itself has left a blueprint on how to make good soil, and tens of millions of desert acres have been turned into fertile grasslands, with long-dead rivers and streams coming back to life as part of the process. This was accomplished by following nature’s laws.
Dr. Weston A. Price, the pioneer who discovered the truth about nutrition, said it this way:
“Life in all its fullness is nature’s laws obeyed.”
Why Good Soil is Crucial for Life
Soil that will nourish healthy life is much more than just dirt. It is a magnificent combination of minerals, bacteria, insects, microbes, and many nutrients (including unknown substances), all coming together to form the very source of life.
Plants need soil to grow, and soil needs plants to hold it in place against wind and rain, or it just erodes away. The nutrients in the soil grow the plants that keep the soil in place.
These nutrients nourish the plants that grow in this good soil, and the nutrients go into the plants, which pass these nutrients on to the people and animals who eat them. Food plants grown in good soil contain many vital nutrients that we all need to be fully healthy. Animals grazing on these rich plants develop nutrients in their flesh, fat and organs which are crucial for human health, and which are only there if the animals get all the nutrients they require.
It is crucial to understand that science has not identified all of these nutrients, and does not know everything about how they work together. But our bodies know, and expect all these nutrients to be there in the food we eat.
Dr. Weston A. Price discovered that traditional peoples eating the diets of their ancestors, foods from animals grazing on rich soil, plants grown in rich soil, or seafood taken from the rich ocean, were immune to tooth decay. This immunity went far beyond tooth decay, as these people did not have cancer, heart disease, asthma, allergies, birth defects, mental problems, or any of the host of chronic diseases that torment modern humanity. Dr. Price understood that good soil was the mother of good food, and included a chapter on the vital importance of soil in his magnificent work, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
How the Soil is Lost
Growing and harvesting certain crops depletes the soil of nutrients. Farming the same soil year after year could lead to erosion. The traditional solution was to rotate fields, to let the land rest and renew, or plant certain crops that would restore nutrients to the soil. Natural fertilizers like animal manure were also used. These solutions worked, but part of the land could not be used for food crops while it rested. Science supposedly “solved” this problem by using artificial fertilizers. These fertilizers enabled crops to grow in depleted soil. The same land could be used for crop after crop, without rest. But these fertilizers only provided some minerals and nutrients, not all of them. In fact, some of these fertilizers interfered with the ability of the plants to absorb nutrients. The plants that grew from the depleted soil were weak and far less able to resist pests, so artificial pesticides were introduced. Pesticides are poisons that kill plants and insects. The introduction of these poisonous artificial chemicals into the soil changed it, having a dramatic effect on the life in the soil, and killing much of that life. Soil is also damaged and changed by artificial chemicals created by industry, which are not part of the natural cycle.
Soil is also damaged and contaminated by the huge amounts of manure and liquid created by CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The miserable animals in CAFOs are crammed together in a small space and not allowed to graze. They are fed grains and other species-inappropriate feeds. This cruel and unnatural practice creates huge lagoons of manure and urine that greatly exceed the ability of the land to absorb them.
The result of this artificial tampering with the soil was less nutrients. Plants cannot have nutrients that are not in the soil. Food animals cannot have nutrients that are not in the plants. People cannot get nutrients that are not in the plants and animal foods we eat. Our bodies cannot function properly without all the nutrients we have evolved to need.
Artificial agriculture has caused a huge loss of useable soil, a serious loss that is continuing. And the soil that remains has far less nutrients. Even in the 1940s, studies showed that fruits and vegetables had far less vitamins and minerals than vegetables grown in the 1920s. The situation is much worse today. For example, researchers have tested commercial oranges that contained hardly any vitamin C.
How Nature Makes Good Soil
We can restore the health of the soil by following nature’s laws. The Great Plains of the United States were some of the richest land ever known on earth. Before the plains were fenced and farmed, more than 60 million bison roamed the plains. The bison traveled in tightly packed herds, so they could defend each other against predators. The herd would travel into an area, eating all the grass, and breaking up the earth with their hooves and concentrated numbers, using their hooves to expose more grass. As they ate the grass, seeds would fall off and get trampled into the earth by the hooves of the massed bison. They would deposit their manure on the soil, returning the nutrients to it.
In effect, the bison actually farmed the land. They harvested the grass by eating it. They plowed the land by breaking it up with their hooves. They planted the new grass by trampling the seeds into the earth. They fertilized the land with their manure.
Then they would move on, leaving the land to rest and grow. By the time the herd returned, they would be greeted with a new crop of rich green grass, and the cycle would begin again.
All of the great grasslands in the world were created in this manner, with different types of animals and herd sizes.
But the blueprint remained the same—the animals were concentrated into tight herds, the herd grazed in a concentrated manner, then moved on, allowing the land to rest, recover, and regrow.
Many grassfed ranchers follow these methods, concentrating their herds, doing intensive grazing, then moving the herds so the land can recover. Some of these ranchers add additional natural nutrients to their soil as well. (See Grassfed Farmer Renews the Land.) Every time I buy grassfed meat, I am supporting these ranchers who are restoring the soil with their herds. Every time I eat the meat and fat from animals raised on rich grass, I am blessed by receiving a full natural range of nutrients, giving my body exactly what it needs to function properly.
These methods have been adapted and used to literally change millions of acres of desert into grassland. Even long-dead streams have come back.
We can restore our good soil to the earth, by following nature’s laws.