by Jeff Clemetson, Editor
They came from all across the country with one specific goal – a diverse mix of health industry academics, new-age yoga and natural health practitioners, plaid-shirt rancher/farmers and people with health problems of all kinds meeting to discuss, inform and create a movement to bring whole, unprocessed, organic, chemical-free foods back to the forefront of the western diet.
The Weston A Price Foundation’s annual conference was held from November 8 to 12 in Santa Clara, CA. The four-day event featured experts on the cutting edge of diet and nutrition who often are at odds with mainstream medical dogma. Among the most controversial aspects of the foundation’s principles are its support for raw dairy products and the consumption of fat, which debunks the federal government’s stance on food safety and the medical establishment’s position of high-cholesterol diets, as well as a principled stance against vegetarian and vegan diets.
The conference featured vendors from around the country that specialize in nutrition, health food and natural supplements. Speaker topics ranged form basic history of the foundation’s work to using magnets to detoxify metals from the body. There were workshops on farming, including tours to local organic farms. Activist groups that promote natural farming promoted their causes and authors sold signed copies of their books.
The major theme of this year’s conference was Nutrition and Behavior. Key speakers presented research linking specific behavior problems and how they are affected by diet. Psychotherapist and author Julia Ross, MA presented lectures on sugar addiction and treating anxiety, depression and insomnia through dietary changes. “Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are more addictive than cocaine,” she said, citing a study that showed that binge eating can be developed into a habit in a soon as two weeks after being exposed for just one hour per day to sugary foods. “It is a biological imperative to end sugars in your diet now.” She went on to explain how the western diet, coupled with unrealistic body images have led to fad diets, vegan diets, crash diets, bulemia and anorexia which can cause major mental health problems. A major part of the problem, she said, is that neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood require amino acids found in the proteins of meats and the modern weight-loss diets promote cutting meats and fat. Ross also offered alternatives to Prozac and other medications to treat depression and anxiety by increasing tryptophan through grass-fed meats and taking the supplements 5HTP and/or DLPA depending on what a person’s specific condition is.
Other speakers at the conference also shared their exeprience with Nutrition and Behavior. Chris Masterjohn, PhD presented his research into how fat-soluble vitamins found in animal products effect mental health while also sharing his own experiences as a former vegan. Author Pam Killeen presente her work on nutritional defficiency and ADHD, ADD and autism. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD, author of “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” which led to the GAPS Diet presented additional research on nutrition and behavioral issues. GAPS Diet practitioner Kim Shuette, CN also shared her experiences in treating patients with the GAPS Diet.
Besides Nutrition and behavior, there were also presentations by farmers and ranchers on natural farming practices, including a presentation by Raw Milk Institute founder and CEO of Organic Pastures Dairy Company Mark McAffe. McAffe shared his stories of fighting to get raw, unpasturized milk back on the market as well as some research showing raw milk’s safety and health benefits. Attourny Judith McGeary spoke about food activism and the fight against Big Agribusiness which lobbies to keep local farms from being able to compete by making costly regulatory laws that favor factory farmers. Rancher Chris Kerston lectured on holistic grazing practices andBrandon Sheard spoke on meat curing.
Purdue University professor of Plant Pathology Dr. Don Huber presented a lecture that showed just how dangerous to our food system (and to our personal health) GMO foods are. His research observed how nutrients are depleted from the soil that grows GMO crops sprayed with Roundup. His research also showed that GMO crops aren’t any better off when it comes to plant disease, and in many cases worse off after diseases build resistance to Roundup and other herbicides that are sprayed on. His lecture was given a standing ovation by a crowd that was likely still stinging from a defeat of a proposition on the Califrnia ballot that would have forced food manufacturers to label their foods if they contained GMOs.
In addition to the basics on food, farming and nutrition there wer also presentations on newer holistic healing practices. Dr. Dean Bonlie, DDS gave a presentation on healing with magnets that pull out toxic metals like mercury that get stored in the body. Dr. Jerry Tennant, MD showed how the body is wired like an electrical circuit and how many digestive and muscle cramping issues can be remedied by restoring proper electrical flow.
History of the Weston A Price Foundation
Perhaps the best attended presentations were the ones by Weston A Price Foundation president Sally Fallon Morell who showed how the other presentations at the conference tied into the studies of Dr. Price for which the foundation got its name. Dr. Price’s research was a comprehensive look at the impact of the modern western diet as spread to other parts of the world. Part anthropology, part nutrition, part biology, part genetics, Dr. Price’s work compared groups of people over generations and how their diet effected their teeth and bones (he was a dentist) while also observing behavioral differences and other signs of health problems. He found that people with similar genetic and geographic backgrounds could have amazing differences in development depending on their diet. People who avoided the western diet of high carbs, high sugars and processed foods would have severe dental problems and even facial bone structure issues while people who ate their traditional diets had straighter teeth and normal face structures. His conclusion, and the basis for the foundation’s research, was that a traditional diet of organic foods, raw dairy products and pasture-raised meats was healthier than the low-fat, high-carb, high refined sugar diet of the industrialized western world.
Fallon Morell combined her historical look at Dr. Price’s work with her own work developing traditional recipes for her cookbooks based off of his initial research. One of the popular themes of her recipes which always brought a knowing chuckle from her audience at her lecture was showing pictures wither her favorite ingredient to add to food – butter. When it came to sweet foods, she said the foundation’s approach to diet wasn’t “puritanical.” Her recipes call for natural sweeteners over refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. “We don’t need these things,” she said. “Nature has provided what we need for sweeteners in the proper level for human consumption.”
Echoing many of the other speakers at the conference, Fallon Morell extolled the virtues of raw milk as one of natures perfect, nutrient-rich foods. Floridated water, toxic metals contaminating seafood, toxic additives in our food – Fallon Morell covered all the bases in why we need to take back our food from industry and return it to the local farms. Growing healthy crops, raising healthy livestock and cooking healthy foods, she pointed out, is the wisest tradition of them all.