One Woman’s Crusade to Revive Traditional Foods
this article originally appeared in Connection Magazine for Healthy Living and Conscious Lifestyles (November 2015)
by Kimberly Hartke
As much as she enjoyed cooking, it had never occurred to California mother of four Sally Fallon to write a cookbook. When a friend approached her about writing a cookbook together, she demurred. But after her friend’s suggestion, Fallon found that she could not get the idea out of her head. As she envisioned the cookbook she would write, she chose to embark upon the project alone, and later chose a different co-author, lipid researcher Mary Enig, PhD. The book, which was six years in the making, puts the work of nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price into practical form. Twenty years later, Nourishing Traditions—The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats has sold over 600,000 copies and has inspired hundreds of internet chat groups, Facebook pages and food bloggers.
Nourishing Traditions (1996) is both a cookbook and an alternative health manual. The reason it is fast becoming a classic on a par with The Joy of Cooking is the way it connects the medicinal facts about food ingredients with time-honored cooking skills that result in nutritious meals that also taste good. The book is widely credited with bringing traditional diets back into vogue, and causing new-found respect for real food ingredients—such as raw milk, butter, eggs and organ meats–and ethnic foodways—such as lacto-fermentation and bone broths.
Most importantly, Nourishing Traditions highlights the discoveries of Dr. Weston A. Price, namely that the diets of healthy traditional peoples were very rich in vitamins A, D and K, nutrients available only in certain seafoods, organ meats, egg yolks and the fats of animals raised in the sunlight eating green pasture. Nourishing Traditions, indeed, has launched a movement.
Passionate fans of Nourishing Traditions buy the book by the case and give them as gifts. Those who love the book commonly say, “The first thirty pages of Nourishing Traditions are life-changing.” The pages they are referring to are the first half of book’s introduction, which brilliantly dismantles modern-day fat fears and animal-protein phobias. Sally details all the dietary wrongs perpetuated in the name of health, and reveals the deliberate campaign to steer health-conscious consumers towards devitalized and processed foods.
In 1999, along with Dr. Enig and her husband Geoffrey Morell, she launched the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), a 501c3 nutrition education nonprofit and activist group. Sally began creating informational WAPF brochures on a variety of nutrition topics such as, “Myths and Truths about Cholesterol,” “Why Butter is Better,” “How to Protect Yourself Against Cancer with Food,” “All About Trans Fats,” “Soy Alert!,” and “The Campaign for Real Milk.” Subscribers to the new Foundation’s quarterly journal, Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts became the membership base whose dues support her mission.
Today, out of a rented one-hundred-year-old house, a staff of three serves the Foundation’s 14,000 members and 600 local chapters around the globe. Local WAPF chapter leaders are enthusiastic volunteers who help those seeking good health find raw milk and healthy pasture-fed animal products in their area. (How to Find a Local Chapter)
The motto of the Weston A. Price Foundation is Dr. Price’s dying words: “You teach, you teach, you teach.” And, the thousands of grassroots activists around the world are doing an admirable job in their teaching mission. For every Weston Price member there are now hundreds of people inspired to join farm buying clubs, cow-share programs (to obtain raw milk in states where sales are illegal) and community supported local agriculture (CSAs). Many chapter leaders also teach classes on preparing nutrient-dense traditional foods.
The collective work of these nutrition activists is also starting to pay off. Scientists are admitting that they have been wrong about fat. Lard, coconut oil and butter are returning to their rightful place in our diet, while sales of industrial seed oils, margarines and spreads are declining. Organic food is a huge and growing market, and more consumers are recognizing the hazards that lurk in the pretty processed food packages. Raw milk sales are increasing at 25 percent a year. Today, when people set out to lose weight, many are choosing to do it with fresh local meats and home- cooked meals, rather than with convenience diet products full of chemicals and phony food-like substances.
The Foundation and its members could not have accomplished all this without having science on their side. Sally’s genius was to forge a partnership with the late University of Maryland research scientist, Mary Enig, as she sought to restore cholesterol’s good name. Dr. Enig blew the whistle on the dangers of manufactured trans fats. Sally, with her ability to communicate complex science to the layman, was able to bring Mary Enig’s considerable knowledge about the vital role of saturated fats in human health to the general public.
Since then, numerous other scientists and researchers have shared their work in the Wise Traditions journal, which has a well-earned reputation as the go-to source for alternative health facts and dietary protocols. All the past issues of the journal are available to the public in an open archive on the Foundation’s website, westonaprice.org.
The Weston A. Price Foundation sponsors the annual Wise Traditions International Conference, now in its 16th year. This November 13-16, 2015. it comes to Anaheim, California. California boasts the most Weston A. Price Chapters (44 chapters) and is the state with the most WAPF members (2052 members).
What Alice Waters did for the restaurant industry by pioneering the farm-to-table concept, Sally has done for the home kitchen by connecting consumers with local farmers and fostering a revival of home cooking skills and homesteading.
A remarkable aspect of Sally’s work has been the way she has built a bridge between the Amish and Mennonite farmers with new customers in suburban and urban areas. At Wise Traditions conferences, you will see a fascinating and diverse audience. Mixing amiably will be liberals and conservatives, young people with blue hair and nose rings, health care professionals, middle aged health seekers, grandparents, and conservative plain folk and their children in traditional homespun garb. And, there is always a documentary filmmaker trying to capture the phenomenon on video.
An important focus for Sally is diets for pre-conception, pregnant women and growing children. Dr. Price discovered that traditional cultures promoted special nutrient-dense foods for men and women before conception and during pregnancy, foods like liver, fish eggs, and butter from cows eating rapidly growing green grass. Her book The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care (with Thomas S. Cowan, MD), details a pre-conception and pregnancy diet that includes raw milk, butter, egg yolks, cod liver oil, liver and other nutrient-dense foods. She is also known for the “Fallon Formula,” a whole foods baby formula based on whole raw milk for moms who have trouble breastfeeding.
Sally is the leading champion of pasture-based farming and wholesome raw dairy foods in the world. Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, based in Fresno, the largest raw dairy farm in North America, credits California moms, educated by WAPF, with the success of his raw milk enterprise.
A regular feature of the Weston A. Price journal is the Real Milk state-by-state update written by Florida attorney, Pete Kennedy. He reports on the status of consumer access to pure fresh milk produced by cows on green pasture, and any changes of the legal status of raw milk in a given state. When government regulators became increasingly hostile to the emerging trend, Sally found another attorney, Gary Cox, willing to join Pete in assisting small dairies with their legal needs. This led to the launch of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FarmtoConsumer.org), which provides a 24/7 legal hotline and strategic legal help for farmers, farm markets and consumer members.
The foods flying off the shelves in our health food stores these days were popularized by Nourishing Traditions: raw milk, bone broth, cod liver oil, raw milk cheeses, kombucha, kefir, lacto-fermented vegetables, and of course, grassfed and free range meats and eggs.
Today, she is putting her beliefs into practice as a dairy farmer and raw milk cheesemaker. Sally Fallon Morell and her husband Geoffrey Morell restored a historic property in Southern Maryland. They have turned this one-time tobacco farm into a place of healing closer to Sally’s heart, a pasture-based farm. The P.A. Bowen Farm store sells all the eco-friendly foods raised on her farm, including pastured pork, chicken and eggs, raw milk and her award-winning raw milk cheeses.
Authors Note: Because of Sally Fallon Morell’s tireless work on behalf of her nutrition education nonprofit, The Weston A. Price Foundation and her Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, she is a true Hero of Sustainable Agriculture. She has created for us a tremendous legacy which must be protected and promoted.
Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Learn more at Westonaprice.org.