This post covers the Preface of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Opinions are mine unless indicated otherwise.
I knew I was going to love this book.
I am a sponge when it comes to nutritional information–it’s like I have this radar that perks up any time someone starts talking about health and nutrition. Through my gleaning I have found that there are many seemingly conflicting bits of information, which has led me to become wary of what Fallon so wittily calls the ‘Diet Dictocrats.’ Yet despite being an unusually discerning American girl when it came to nutrition, I still fell–at least temporarily–into some of the food fad traps. It’s really hard to be a healthy American. Radiantly healthy foreigners come here and they get sick and fat. Some Americans might be lucky enough to have had parents who enjoy cooking and feeding their families in traditional ways, without worrying what the latest nutritional trend was–but I think those are few and far between.
Fallon calls technology a ‘generous benefactor’ who has the unfortunate stepchildren of convenience foods and all the ‘bright baubles’ that fill the shelves at grocery stores. Food marketers would like you to believe that a can of vegetable soup is good for you, and for a short time I believed it, but it wasn’t too long before I noticed how deplete canned food was of vitamins that are so rich in fresh food. They don’t even tell you that all the enzymes are destroyed in processing; it wasn’t until recently that I even really knew about enzymes in food–they just aren’t talked about much, and they certainly aren’t listed on nutritional labels.
Ah, the labels. I used to read those things like they were the path to good health. The path to destruction is more like it. I mean, sure, they might help you determine how processed a food is, depending on how much fiber and nutrients have been stripped out of it, and what crazy concoctions of ingredients it might have, but we would be much better off, I think, if we just listened to our bodies.
That’s exactly what traditional peoples have done all over the world–they listen to their bodies. They have the goods of nature (not man) at their disposal, and they follow their hunger cues and their taste buds, and they have created countless ways to eat very nutritiously without needing to know the science behind it. What my gleaned nutritional wisdom has taught me is that it all boils down to the traditional diet. Dr. Weston Price, whose studies Fallon obviously appreaciates, studied 14 isolated groups and found them to be radiantly healthy.
Almost without exception, the groups he studied ate liberally of seafood or other animal proteins and fats in the form of organ meats and dairy products; they valued animal fats as absolutely necessary to good health; and they ate fats, meats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains in their whole, unrefined state.
Perhaps we can learn more about being healthy from these traditional groups than we can from modern day science?