Hearing Sally Fallon Morell‘s talk about traditional diets at the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s Wise Traditions conference was a turning point in my health, nutrition, and parenting journeys. Each year the organization headed by Fallon Morell brings together a thousand traditional foods enthusiasts to hear presentations about holistic health and wellness by speakers who are nationally recognized leaders in the field; to meet vendors and sample whole foods products; to eat delicious farm-fresh and locally-sourced meals — including bone broth on tap! — and to learn from one another. The large annual Wise Traditions conference moves to a different part of the country each year and will be in Anaheim, California November 13-16.
In addition to serving as the co-founder and president of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) and the author of several books, Fallon Morell and her husband own P.A. Bowen Farmstead in Brandywine, Maryland, less than an hour from D.C. Available every Saturday morning by appointment are tours of the farm, which produces artisan cheese and raises grass-based livestock.
Earlier this year, I had the chance to talk with Morell in advance of a sold-out day-long seminar she gave in Maryland.
Jessica Claire Haney of Mindful Healthy Life: Let’s start by talking about how things have changed since you began this journey.
Sally Fallon Morell of the Weston A. Price Foundation: Since the publication of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats in 1996, what’s gratifying is that we’ve seen by and large a tremendous confirmation of all the principles that were outlined there. For one example, Nourishing Traditions lays out broth, which we discuss in more detail in the more recent book, Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World. It’s tremendous how much we’ve found out about how broth is healthy.
MHL: A member of my Holistic Moms Network chapter wanted me to ask about raw milk and babies.
Sally Fallon Morell: Becoming a member of Weston A. Price Foundation will help her become familiar with the many benefits of raw milk. It is now legal in 40 states; in most of the others it’s coming over the border, mostly from Pennsylvania. We now have thousands of babies brought up on raw milk. We consistently get glowing reports of their good health. Occasionally we hear of an allergy to milk and put the baby on liver-based formula. All the formula recipes and additional information for feeding babies and toddlers are in The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. There are also healthy baby photo galleries in Wise Traditions, our quarterly journal. The journal helps members keep up with the latest science and be current on what is going on in the raw milk and farming fields.
MHL: My friend also asked about healthfulness of eating pork.
Sally Fallon Morell: We have done two studies looking at people’s blood after eating pork. If you eat a pork chop you will see dramatic changes in blood – sludging of the blood. Marinating seems to be very important: it’s all in the preparation. If you marinate that pork chop in vinegar or lemon juice first, this blood sludging does not happen. People will be happy to learn that bacon does not have the same sludging effect.
MHL: Since we spoke in 2011 at the time of the new USDA guidelines and My Plate, what have been some of the most important nutrition policy developments that affect children? Have things gotten better or worse with respect to the official government line on health and nutrition?
Sally Fallon Morell: The USDA guidelines have not changed much and the situation is definitely worse because what’s happened is these guidelines, which were already being imposed on schools, are now also imposed on daycare centers serving children over the age of one. Daycares cannot serve whole milk and now you cannot buy whole milk in the WIC program. This amounts to genocide. This is starving our growing children, starving their brains of the nutrients they need for normal function, setting them up for lifelong problems.
USDA replaced the Food Pyramid with My Plate after criticisms that the Pyramid scheme was too high in carbs, but the My Plate formulation is actually higher on carbs than before. See our article, “A Closer Look at My Plate.”
MHL: What does one do? How would you encourage Real Food advocate parents to spend their energies with respect to food activism?
Sally Fallon Morell: It’s really a challenge for the average person to say no to conventional nutritional advice, and to realize that what the government is saying is not only wrong but harmful. People don’t like to face this fact because then they have to say to themselves, “What else am I hearing that’s not accurate?”
The only solution is for parents to provide their children’s food and not to depend on the government to feed your children because no government is going to feed your children the right way.
We have over 600 chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Some of the leaders start off with the idea of changing school lunches. I say: Pick something else to do. You are not going to change the school lunch program, not in our lifetimes. What you can do is convince parents to make their own children’s lunches. The first way you spend your energy and time is to provide food for your children. That is your responsibility. If you leave it up the government, your children are not going to be well fed.
We’ve testified, submitted testimony, done all sorts of things. But this push to put people on low-fat diets is kind of unstoppable on the institutional level. Some very strong forces are out there. As an individual, the only way to fight is on the individual level – feed good nutrient-dense foods to your family, like liver, butter, eggs, cheese, and whole raw milk.
MHL: What do you think are the top four most important things for a woman who is trying to conceive, is pregnant or is breastfeeding to do – recommendations she’s not likely to hear from her doctor or midwife?
Sally Fallon Morell: First and foremost, eat lots and lots of animal fats. I ask this riddle – how are animal fats like sex? They are both needed for reproduction. We have very strong instincts for both. If you suppress those, you end up with pathologies. If you tell young people that fats are evil, you will get eating disorders. Second, take cod liver oil to build up stores of vitamins A and D. Third, drink raw milk, which is a wonderful way to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Then get off all the junk food based on refined sweeteners, white flour, industrial seed oils and additives like MSG — just clean this stuff out of your cupboards and replace them with real food.
MHL: If parents think their children don’t have any particular health issues eating a Standard American Diet, why should they move to a traditional diet? How do you make the case for people who are not motivated by a health condition?
Sally Fallon Morell: The majority of children today DO have health issues. We have a crisis in our children. The real challenge is getting people to make the connection between diet and health issues like asthma, skin problems, low energy, learning disorders, etc. People don’t see the connection between their diet and these health problems. So many of these children have starving brains. People like to blame health problems on something else, like germs, genes and God’s will. I don’t buy any of that. It’s our fault – we’re supposed to work in partnership with nature (or God) to put healthy foods into our bodies and not factory foods.
MHL: Can you share a few stories of children overcoming health issues after going onto a traditional diet?
Sally Fallon Morell: One of my favorites was a little boy with debilitating asthma. He had been in hospital and then his parents put him on raw milk. One dietary change and the issue cleared up immediately. Except one weekend, he went back on pasteurized milk and had an asthma attack.
Having healthy children is our most important goal. Healthy children are cheerful, smart, athletic, and don’t need braces. When we work in partnership with nature and eat the foods we are supposed to eat, we have very healthy children.
MHL: What is your life like now? Are you living exclusively on the P.A. Bowen Homestead in Maryland? Where are your children?
Sally Fallon Morell: We love being on the farm. For a while were living in D.C. and on the farm, but we cut ties to D.C. last year. I make the cheese on the farm, which I love. We have the satisfaction of providing healthy food and creating this beautiful place. It’s a big challenge. One goal is to make it profitable. It would be a lot more profitable if could sell more raw milk here! (Update: The P.A. Bowen Homestead is now able to sell raw cow’s milk for pets.)
My kids are scattered from Seattle to London. I have four children; two are married. I have three beautiful grandkids. We all get together once a year.
Changing the world starts in your own family. Everyone needs to spend some time in the kitchen, and you need to think about what you’re eating. If we don’t, it’s typically the following generation that suffers.
Be sure to check out our upcoming giveaway for a copy of Nourishing Traditions and a membership to the Weston A. Price Foundation! Starts 10/23 and runs through 10/29!
Her books include:
- Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
- Nourishing Broth: An Old-Fashioned Remedy for the Modern World
- The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care
- Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats
Here’s a glance at the Wise Traditions Conference.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life. She is a writer and editor and a co-leader for the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. Her personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama. See the Contributors page for more on Jessica.
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