There has never been a time in human history quite like the present: robots walk, wireless technologies connect us to the world with a sweep of our fingers, and grocery store shelves are filled with foods from near and far. Technology is rapidly changing and increasing the ease and quality of people’s lives. Modern production techniques have resulted in mass-produced foodstuffs, attractively packaged and inexpensively purchased. Technological conveniences like electric stoves, automatic toasters, and microwaves allow these “foods” to be prepared quickly with the touch of a button.
Yet this same technology that has brought blessings in many aspects has brought curses as well. Consider the health of our nation. Degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s–once considered to be afflictions of old age–are increasingly common and alarmingly prevalent amongst startling younger populations. Relatively new “modern” diseases once unheard of, such as diabetes, food allergies, autism, and obesity are rapidly growing to epidemic proportions. What has brought about this dramatic change?
Nearly a century ago a pioneering dentist named Dr. Weston A. Price set out to uncover the causes of modern dental ailments like cavitations and root canals. He traveled the world, studying the native populations of various regions and what their traditional diets were composed of. His book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, details his startling findings. Price discovered that the world over that the foods consumed by these people were carefully prepared and that they produced beautiful, robust, healthy populations with virtually no incidence of either dental ailments or “modern” diseases. He found that only when a member of such a society left for modernity were they exposed to these calamities. So what did these “primitive” people recognize about sacred foods that we, as modern, sophisticated man do not? Sadly, Dr. Price’s research was ignored and forgotten, and remains largely so in the present day.
It may be argued that for today’s people, the state of overall health is much worse than in Price’s day and declining at a steady rate. Is it possible to stop and even reverse the damage inflicted by the modern diet? The answer is yes! We can derive the food wisdom of our ancestors from many published resources (see below), thanks to the internet. Traditional diets maximized nutrients, while our modern diet minimizes them. Our ancestors harvested foods and consumed them largely in their natural state or carefully prepared through a lengthy fermentation process. This lactic fermentation (as found in yogurt, sourdoughs, picklings and condiments) not only improved the digestibility and nutrients contained in the foods, but also removed or reduced harmful anti-nutrients that naturally occur in grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. These processes, while inconvenient by modern standards, produced superior foods that nourished healthy populations for generations. Foods like grass-fed butter, raw dairy, organ meats, soured porridges and breads, and a variety of vegetables and fruits (both raw, cooked, and fermented) were highly prized, especially for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and growing children. These same principles and techniques can be applied to our foods today and with similar results!
Are you ready to begin your journey of good health for generations? Some great resources for self-study are: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, and the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org).