The following article was first published in the Summer 2010 issue of the Funky Raw magazine, but I decided it was quite important to also publish it here. It will also explain the use of a few new ingredients in my recipes.
On March 21st, I went to a conference which changed the way I eat in quite a major way. Don’t worry, I’m still eating mostly raw, but I’ve changed the makeup of my diet. The conference was called “Wise Traditions” and was organised by Philip Ridley (now a contributor to Funky Raw, see page 14) with the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Weston Price was a dentist who in the 1930s started noticing changes in peoples jaws and teeth and related degeneration in their health. He thought that this might have something to do with the changes in peoples diets, so he set off on a journey to find tribes of people who had not been influenced by western civilisation. He studied the health of these “primitive” people, found out what they were eating and took photos of their teeth and jaws. He published his findings in a book called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”. Now it’s at this point I have to admit that I haven’t yet read the book (although it is on my bookshelf ready to be read very soon), so my analysis is based on what the Weston Price Foundation says.
So, as we would expect, these tribes of people ate lots of raw food and lots of wild food, but some particularly interesting points he found were that all the tribes included at least some animal products in their diet, their diets had fat contents of between 30% and 80% of calories and they all ate a variety of fermented foods.
Now of course I’m not saying that this gives us an ideal diet, there are many factors to take into consideration – we don’t know what the lifespan of these people was, we don’t know how it affected their consciousness or anything else. But it might give us some clues as to how we should eat today.
In a bit more detail, these are the main characteristics of the diets of healthy traditional peoples:
- No refined or denatured foods: no white sugar or high fructose corn syrup, no white flour, no pasteurised, homogenised, skimmed or low fat milk, no refined or hydrogenated vegetable oils, no protein powders and no synthetic vitamins.
- All the traditional cultures consumed some animal foods. Generally the whole animal would be consumed including the muscle meat, organs, bones and fat.
- The diets contained 10 times the amount of vitamin A, D and K2 compared to the average American diet. These vitamins come from animal foods, and only if the animals are pasture fed (eating grass and outdoors).
- They all cooked some of their food but also all consumed a some of their animal foods raw.
- They all ate a variety of fermented foods – vegetables, fruits, drinks, dairy and/or meat.
- Generally seeds, grains and nuts were soaked and sprouted and sometimes fermented.
- Fat content varied from between 30 to 80 percent of calories, most of this was from saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids with only 4% coming from polyunsaturated oils. The omega 3 to omega 6 ratio was approximately equal.
- And all traditional diets contained some salt.
As you can see, some of these points tie in with the way most raw fooders eat, but of course some do not. I don’t want to tell you how to eat, and I don’t know enough yet to make any recommendations, but if you are not 100% happy with your current diet, maybe you will find some of this information useful.
Over the last year I’ve occasionally had some fish, because I’ve had strong cravings for it, and I tend to trust my cravings as my body requesting certain nutrients. I’ve found that a small amount of fish every month or so stopped the cravings and helped to keep my diet balanced. I now feel happy about this change and no longer think that it is “wrong” in some way.
Since this conference, I’ve also added cream, butter and kefir to my diet. While I was still living in London, I was getting Hurdlebrook raw cream from Notting Hill Gate farmers market. Kefir is a fermented food made with dairy milk – it’s similar to yoghurt but with improved health benefits and can be made at room temperature. It contains lots of beneficial pro-biotic bacteria. Holly wrote about Kefir in Funky Raw issue 3 so you can check it out if you have a copy, and she will be covering the topic again in the next issue of Funky Raw.
I was already eating a small amount of cheese made with unpasteurised milk, I’m now eating a bit more (and with less guilt that I may be eating something bad for me.)
The book: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston A Price, published by Price Pottenger Nutrition
Weston Price Foundation: www.westonaprice.org
Kefir granules for making your own kefir (which can be used indefinitely, just keep adding milk) can be purchased from www.foodforconsciousness.co.uk
Hurdlebrook – raw milk and raw cream from Guernsey Cows. www.hurdlebrook.co.uk 01458 223229 Available from the following places:
Chegworth Valley Farm Shop, 221 Kensington Church Street, Notting Hill, London
Shops in Somerset – call 01458 223229 to find out where.
La Fromagerie – also sells raw cheese and raw butter. 2-6 Moxon Street, Marlybone, London lafromagerie.co.uk