Paleo + Weston A. Price: Dietary Domination.

I began my Primal-Paleo journey a few years back. I leaned into it, leaned out of it, failed miserably, tried again, and finally settled in to a good rhythm once I realized that this way of life doesn’t fit into a “diet” box. I couldn’t put four walls around this way of life or tie it up all nice with a ribbon. As I began to allow the underlying ideals to absorb and permeate, I realized there was more to it than what  I put on my dinner plate.

Well, Captain...Looks like a whole mess of Crap.

In short, it’s like learning to read. Suddenly you can’t help but see all the words around you.  “Paleo” isn’t just about food. It’s about opening up a new world of learning, applying and progressing; Taking the wisdom of the “Paleo Gurus” and using it as a guide to blaze your own path of independent thought and health. The key is getting to know yourself better as you execute the principles – getting in touch with your instinct and trusting it moving forward. What’s more Primal than that?

Oh, good. It DOES come in a bottle.

Some time ago I picked up Nora Gedgaudas’ book Primal Body, Primal Mind. (Recently re-released – get yourself a copy!) I was curious how her insights lined up with those of Mark Sisson, Loren Cordain, De Vany and Robb Wolf. Gedgaudas’ discussion of food quality, fat necessity, environmentalism and physiology was enlightening, and led me to the Weston A. Price Foundation and their annual Wise Traditionsconference, which this year features “Paleo-friendly” luminaries like Chris Masterjohn and Denise Minger.

Click on the book to be taken to Nora Gedgaudas' website.

I talk about the WAP Foundation often. Dr. Weston Price was a dentist who, in the 1930s, set out to understand why the modern American experienced such profound dental problems, from a crowded mouth to dental decay. A broad history with the WAP recommendations that resulted can be found by clicking here.

As detailed in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, (buy it. Read it.) Dr. Price spent years researching and documenting the lives of indigenous and non-Westernized cultures across the world – cultures that suffered none of the diseases of civilization. The people of these cultures, untouched by modern foods, not only had perfect health…they had perfect teeth. Dr. Price wanted to know what they did to remain so healthy.

Click on the image to be taken to Amazon.com's listing of the book.

 

Dr. Price found that “traditional diets,” as different as they were in different parts of the globe, all relied on animal products, organ meats, cholesterol-rich foods like eggs and raw milk, and shellfish – and ten times the fat-soluble vitamins of modern diets. Immediately upon introduction of modern foods, these faces narrowed and tooth decay set in.

A paragraph from Dr. Price’s documented journey filled me with admiration for the man:

We have shown a most laudable and sympathetic interest in carrying our culture to the remnants of these primitive races. Would it not be fortunate to accept in exchange lessons from their inherited knowledge? It may be not only our greatest opportunity, but our best hope for stemming the tide of our progressive breakdown and also for our return to harmony with Nature’s laws, since life in its fullness is Nature obeyed.”

This utter respect for “primitive” cultures’ deep and profound understanding of nourishment is inspiring. Dr. Price understood how much there was to learn from the peoples he studied. He respected their knowledge enough to give it due credit, and devoted his life to documenting and preserving it. These people were healthy, and they were alive – not just as an anthropological record, but as thriving examples of ancestral wisdom passed down over generations. They may not have known the science behind their ways, but they knew that these “ways” kept them strong and in perfect health.

Sound familiar? This is also what “Paleo” is about – using our understanding of history as structural support for our lives moving forward. We are not cavemen; neither were these isolated cultures who maintained extraordinary health without modern foods or medicines. But there is something to learn from Cavemen and “Primitive Cultures” nonetheless.

There is also much to be learned from Ringo, The Brady Mom, and that guy who's brother was in Christmas Vacation.

On top of their recommendations on a proper, cholesterol-loving, animal-and SatFat-filled diet, The Weston A. Price foundation advocates plenty of raw milk and “properly prepared” grains. Despite the “traditional” grains and dairy – and I’ve written at length about Doing Dairy Right – the rest of it sounds awfully close to living “Paleo.”

Paleo folks argue that grains are never, ever a good idea. I agree, as does Gedgaudas and other Nutritonal Therapists certified by the Nutritional Therapy Association, a group with a firm foundation in the work of Dr. Price (I am a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner candidate).

I don’t see the WAP “properly prepared” grain-friendly attitude as a problem. Not everybody who eats “Paleo” likes chicken. So they don’t eat chicken. You don’t have to agree with every ideal to put the best of both worlds to work for your health, longevity, nourishment, and happiness.

There seems to be a bit of mild animosity between Sally Fallon, the President of the WAP Foundation and author of Nourishing Traditions and co-author of Eat Fat, Lose Fat; and Loren Cordain, author of the original The Paleo Diet, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and The Dietary Cure for Acne. I believe this is a result of Fallon’s extreme passion and uncompromising nature, which leads her to be incredibly specific about the “Okays” and the “No Ways,” of a “nourishing” diet, and Cordain’s deep steeping in anthropology that led to his recommendations based on replicating ancestral norms.

If I got the two in a room together I’d make them hold hands and sing, because the two of them, along with Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Art DeVany, Chris Kresser, and basically the entire docket of the Ancestral Health Symposium are the Power Rangers of the Foodocalypse. Their work has changed the world. Do you hear that, you guys? When your powers combine, you’re the next best thing to Captain Planet! (Yes, I know I just mushed together 2 awesome TV shows into one.)

There's power in All the colors of the Paleo Rainbow. And cool fisticuffs!

Plenty of Paleo folks realize that a food shouldn’t be eaten just because a caveman ate it. Similarly, a food shouldn’t be eaten just because the people of the High Alps of Switzerland (a populus Dr. Price researched) ate it. We all aim to eat the most nourishing foods possible, and it just so happens that those foods are…wait for it…real foods like pastured meats, veggies, fish, eggs, and some fruits here and there. It also “just so happens” that pastured, hormone-free, locally produced meats are more nutritious, better for the environment and our bodies, AND support local businesses.

This brings me to my favorite part about the WAP Foundation. Quoting directly:

The Foundation supports raising animals on pasture as much of the year as possible, and opposes confinement operations, feedlots, debeaking, growth hormones, routine antibiotics in feed, inappropriate feed such as soy, and other practices that harm animals’ health and well-being, harm the environment, and result in animal foods that are not optimally nutritious for humans…

The Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. It supports a number of movements that contribute to this objective including accurate nutrition instruction, organic and biodynamic farming, pasture-feeding of livestock, community-supported farms, honest and informative labeling, prepared parenting and nurturing therapies. Specific goals include establishment of universal access to clean, certified raw milk and a ban on the use of soy formula for infants.”

Not do we all – Paleo, Primal, and Weston A. Pricers alike – realize that Soy can get pretty evil, that babies need nutrient-dense diets, and that grass-feeding of animals creates a superior product, but there’s an excellent trail of …um…gluten-free bread crumbs to follow for many of the larger goals of the Primal Movement:

The WAP foundation has an extensive network across the country that can help put interested parties in contact with local farmers and nourishing food sources. It’s well-organized, as the growing Paleo and Primal networks are, and the annual Wise Traditions conference (check out links for the 2011 conference here) is a fantastic meeting of the best minds in science, politics and medicine – all of whom understand a return to The Basics is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture and great health.

Click to be taken to the AHS site.

There are plenty of Paleo folks out there who are curious about, or already active in, the Weston A. Price community. Keeping an eye on my Twitter feed during the 2010 Wise Traditions Conference convinced me of the potential of this match.

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