A few weekends ago I attended the Wise Traditions Conference. This is a conference sponsored by the Weston A Price Foundation, named in honor of the dentist who wrote the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration based on his research of primitive peoples and their diets.
He found these traditional cultures to have surprisingly good dental health as well as physical and mental health, so he studied their diets to see what we could learn from them. What he discovered was, while no two people groups had the same diet, they all had some commonalities — most notably that they all contained animal products (organ meats and fat were revered); their diets were high in enzymes, fat soluble vitamins and calcium; and grains, seeds and legumes were soaked, sprouted or fermented. They ate no processed or denatured foods, of course, and basically made use of what was available to them.
This way of eating is, of course, quite different from the Standard American Diet, where Happy Meals and Fruit Loops reign supreme.
In a nutshell, traditional diets maximize nutrients, while modern diets minimize nutrients.
I immediately noticed something about the women at this conference — their skin. Almost everyone I met had smooth, radiant skin. Surely they are doing something right.
Proponents of returning to a more traditional diet encourage eating lots of healthy fats (butter and coconut oil and lard from pastured pigs), meat and poultry from grass fed and pastured animals, properly prepared grains, and as many vegetables and leafy greens as you want.
One thing that really stood out to me this weekend was the sheer amount of butter these people enjoy. They practically worship the stuff.
While the conference had fabulous sessions where I learned a TON, the food by far was the star of the show. Here’s a photo of my breakfast one morning:
That is three kinds of sausage, bacon, four or five kinds of cheeses, egg fritatta, and that pat of yellow there on the left? THAT is butter. And my plate was not unusual.
You would not BELIEVE the amount of butter these people put on their bread — and on everything, really.
I’ve always loved butter, and I’ve never been afraid of eating a dinner roll with equal parts roll and butter. In fact, our standard joke is, “Hey, Jo-Lynne, you want some bread with that butter?”
You can imagine how at home I felt with this crowd. There were people walking by with slices of bread with SLABS of butter covering their bread. I wish I’d taken a photo. You really would have to see it to believe it.
Wait. Isn’t butter really bad for you?
Butter has gotten a bad rap (wrap?) but there are actually amazing health benefits in butter — especially if that butter comes from cows raised on grass, and even better if it is made from raw milk that hasn’t sacrificed its nutrients for the pasteurization process. In fact, those that eat margarine have twice the heart disease as those that eat butter. (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12)
Butter from grass fed animals contains massive amounts of vitamins A, D, K and E. (Butter is actually a great source of vitamin A and it’s more easily assimilated than from other food sources.) It also has CLA which protects against cancer. And, buttering your vegetables actually helps you absorb their nutrients.
I’m not saying that the radiant skin I noted at the conference is due entirely to their impressive butter consumption. I’m sure it is due to a combination of their overall diets and lifestyles, but you can’t ignore the fact that natural fats are the cornerstone of these traditional diets.
So let’s hear three cheers for butter!