Weston A. Price Nutrition

Weston A. Price was a Canadian born dentist who started practicing in the US in the 1920s. Being puzzled and highly concerned about the poor state of his patients' teeth, he decided to undertake a number of trips to isolated parts of the world where people still lived untouched by the Western civilization. His goal was to discover factors responsible for good dental health. The chances to do similar studies now are practically non-existent as there are few, if any, places left that are untouched by the influence of our global industrial culture. For this reason his work is priceless, particularly because he documented his studies with a lot of photographs and detailed descriptions. The Weston A. Price Foundation was formed in 1999 to bring to light and disseminate the research and findings of Dr. Price.

Another great value of his work is that he did not study just one particular culture but his research and documentation included a very diverse representation of native cultures in different climatic zones: a sequestrated village in the Swiss Alps, Inuit in Alaska, Gaelic communities in Outer Hybrids, indigenous tribes in North and South Americas, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, eastern and western African tribes, Malay tribes on islands north of Australia, Australian aborigines and New Zealand Maori – all together 14 different cultures. In each one he found beautiful straight teeth basically free from decay but also good physics, resistance to disease and fine characters.

His most important finding was that the diets of all these groups were characterized by some common principles, representing links between foods and health, which are applicable to any human. These nutritional principles that sustained people around the world, over many generations can help us to form judgments regarding our diet and the foods we want to eat for good health.

If these principles worked for so long and for so many different cultures, why should they not work for us? We cannot blindly duplicate their diets, particularly because every diet needs to be tied to a particular place. However, we can understand the principles on which they were based and apply them to our personal lives and our individual state of health, which all are different. For those reasons adopting Weston A. Price's findings to our diets need to be considered with caution:

  • Applying all the principles might be good if someone starts from scratch as a genetically healthy baby. But through our lives we have built all sorts of larger and smaller health pathologies and our bodies might not handle well the change of our diet, it doesn't matter how principally valid it is. We may even have some genetic deficiencies caused by dietary problems of our ancestors and these can make a transition to the traditional diet more difficult or highly restricted. Yet, all that doesn't take away the great value of the Weston A. Price's findings and their implications for understanding and building our diets for best health.
  • Raw plant and animal foods that are now commonly available, particularly if produced by industrial agriculture, are not the same as they used to be because of their possible pollution with chemicals, depleted mineral content, and hybridization of species that may cause nutritional deficiencies that we might not even understand. That may diminish or even take away the benefits of traditional diets. This needs to be taken into consideration and some diet supplements may be necessary.
  • We need to understand that we came from and now live at places different from those studied by Dr. Price. We need to formulate our best diets that work for the places where we now live as it is best if we can procure most foods from a close distance to us; the closer, the better. That is best for our personal health (knowing where the food comes from, freshness, etc.) but even more for maintaining general principles of sustainability that need to be local to be truly sustainable.

We want our collective exploration of the food-health connections to be primarily based on the Weston A. Price diet principles. We will take it to the practical level creating and demonstrating examples of traditional foods and processing technologies that can be the foundation of a healthy, traditional diet. We will apply an understanding gained from the applicable food sciences to produce foods that are not only principally healthy but also safe to eat.

Many people may fundamentally disagree with what will be demonstrated at the Centre. It is their right to take such position and our goal is not to impose these views on anybody or even attempt to convince anyone that what we do is right. Let each person decide what she or he wants to eat and to follow a path of learning based on that.

One cannot think or discuss traditional diets by compartmentalizing and arguing about their specific parts because they work as a whole alternative nutritional system. That is how our concept of nutrition and our diet needs to be seen. Focusing on a single part of the diet and doing research through double blind studies (if that is even possible) is not the way to assess validity of all or any of these principles. These ideas need to be first assessed as a whole and judged if they make sense based on evidence coming from the past healthy generations of many cultures. If the whole makes sense to us, only then we can look at the parts.

If we accept that the principles of traditional diets make sense as a whole, then staying away from industrial foods should be the starting point of any personal diet change plan. It starts from recognizing that all industrial foods are at least inferior and often straight damaging to our health. Committing only to organic foods is not enough, because the problem often is with food processing rather than with agriculture and many organically certified foods are also industrially processed. Also, organically grown/raised foods when superior to industrial foods don't guarantee high level of nutrients, particularly if produced on a large scale as they don't address the problem of general soil mineral depletion. There is a big difference between what could be called grassroots and industrial organics. The latter we buy in large stores, the former at local farms.

Rejecting all industrial foods is the challenge that, in practical terms, is almost impossible to accept for most of us, particularly for urban people and that needs to be recognized. However, the more we understand how industrial food processing changes our food and how traditional processing, including proper food preparation at home, can benefit our health, the better decisions we will be able to make and gradually learn what we can do. Indeed, this is a journey rather than a shift but a journey most worthy of taking on. Your health is on stake here.

Recommended Books 

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price 

Nourishing Traditions

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon 

The Jungle Effect

The Jungle Effect. The Healthiest Diets from Around the World. By Daphne Miller 

Eating in Eden. The Nutritional Superiority of "Primitive" Foods. By Ruth Adams