Meet Dr. Weston A. Price

With all this talk about traditional food, I should mention the doctor who has probably been the greatest contributor to getting traditional foods back on the American table. 

Dr. Weston A. Price
Dr. Weston A. Price, a native of Canada, practiced dentistry in Cleveland, Ohio in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He also founded the Research Institute of the American Dental Association (now known as the Research Section) and served as chair of the institute for fourteen years. 
Historically an agrarian society, America quickly shifted over to industrialization and food processing while Dr. Price was working with his patients. Around this time, he began seeing more and more patients with tooth decay, deformed palate arches, narrower jaws, and other dental issues. Additionally, he noticed that those plagued with dental problems also tended to be weaker and more susceptible to other diseases.  The connection between a decrease in the health of his patients and the dramatic change in the American diet couldn't be ignored, and Dr. Price became determined to find exactly why chronic disease had come so swiftly upon Western culture. 
Research and Studies
In the early 1930s, Dr. Price left his practice and traveled with his wife to isolated parts of the globe to study indigenous groups of people yet untouched by Western civilization. He wanted to study the healthiest people in the world to determine what kept them free from disease. The groups that Dr. Price included in his research were Australian aborigines, New Zealand Maori, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, isolated Swiss villages, the Maasai and other African tribes, Gaelic groups in the outer Hebrides, the Inuit population, Native Americans, and South American tribes. Dr. Weston A. Price found that those tribes who remained faithful to their native, unprocessed, traditional foods were of better, more excellent health than those of the same ethnic background who had incorporated processed and industrialized foods into their diet.
When Dr. Price returned from traveling across the globe, he collected his findings and edited them into a book titled, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Included in the book are some of the 18,000 photos he took along the way! If you read the book you'll find that many of the populations did not eat similar things. Some groups tended to eat lots of plants, other groups mainly ate meat and fat; some consumed milk regularly, and others never drank it. Although there appear to be great differences at first glance, deeper investigation shows there to be incredible similarities.
Findings and Conclusions
In all the populations he studied, Dr. Price found that those people who stuck to a natural, unprocessed, traditional diet tended to be physically hardy, strong, and .
resilient.  These native peoples were virtually free from chronic diseases that were beginning to plague the American people. This included obesity, heart disease, fertility problems, cognitive disabilities, and other diseases. 
Dr. Price also noticed similar food practices amongst the people. Each native group used all parts of the animal: prizing the organ meats, saving the bones for broth, and certainly not throwing away the fat. Those that included dairy in their diet drank it raw or cultured. Grains, if used, were soaked and fermented before being consumed.  Many vegetables, fruits, and other foods were fermented before being eaten, which turned the foods into natural probiotics. Most cultures made drastic effort to obtain seafood, especially fish roe (eggs). Lastly, natural sugars like honey, and those found in fruit were eaten sparingly and in season. Of course, food items like white sugar and high fructose corn syrup were nonexistent. 
These traditional diets are much more nutrient dense than the foods we eat today. Dr. Price found that these native peoples consumed many times more vitamins and minerals than was typical in the standard American diet. He noticed in particular, within all populations he studied, that they consumed, on average, TEN times more fat soluble vitamins than Americans who ate a modern, refined diet. Of course, they were getting these vitamins from butter, fish eggs, organ meats, shellfish, eggs, and animal fats - foods which are largely shunned by the American people. In fact, fat consumption comprised 40% to 80% of their daily caloric intake. Much of this fat was saturated, coming from the animals they raised.
Besides noticing their wholesome diets and excellent physical health, Dr. Price also examined their teeth and found less than 1% of tooth decay in all the people he visited. He discovered wide palates and straight, white teeth - and this was without any local orthodontist helping out! What was most astonishing was that these people didn't practice any sort of dental hygiene. 

These people lived primarily on moose and caribou meat.
Dr. Price concluded that industrialized foods which had quickly made their way into the Western diet were the exact foods causing increases in poor dental health and degenerative disease. What foods would this include? Unfortunately, they are those we often find at our local grocery store: sugar, white flour, jelly, cookies, pasteurized milk, canned vegetables, refined grains, margarine, and vegetable oils.
The work of Dr. Weston A. Price has contributed greatly to a better understanding of health today. Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (mentioned in the previous post on traditional foods) founded the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutritional advocacy group, to honor his work and spread the truth about nutrition and disease. 
The focus at Nourish to Flourish is on traditional foods. These nutrient-dense, natural, unprocessed and unrefined diets were the key to health of these native peoples and our ancestors, and remain the key to our health today.

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