Health Lessons from the Weston A. Price Foundation Conference

Where else but at a Weston A. Price conference do you dine with 1,700 people heaping masses of butter on their food, wait in line for sauerkraut, and stroll conference halls with bottles of raw milk and kombucha at hand?

I just returned from the 13th annual Wise Traditions conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation at the Santa Clara convention center. I had high expectations being this was my second conference – and was not disappointed. Invariably there are too many remarkable sessions to physically attend but I focused on the nutrition and behavior tracks.

Gut Health and Damaging Carbs

The conference presenters ranged from doctors to nutritionists, acupuncturists to PHD’s – but some common themes quickly emerged from these sessions.

“In proportion as man has learned to modify Nature’s foods, he has degenerated.” Dr. Weston A. Price

First is that proper nutrition is the foundation to healing and this means a diet based on the principles that Dr. Weston A. Price discovered studying healthy traditional societies around the world. The key components of this diet is nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K found in animal fats. This is contrary to contemporary conventional nutrition advice and a main factor in our degrading health.

Chris Masterjohn gave a fantastic presentation on “Meat, Organs, Bones, and Skin: Nutrition and Mental Health,” and revealed his own experience of rampant tooth decay and anxiety from his vegetarian years to robust health adopting the principles of Dr. Price.

“Our only recommendation for ending the worldwide physical and mental health crisis is to cut all sweetened foods to below 10% of calories.” World Health Organization 2006.

A second recurrent theme is the detrimental effects of refined carbohydrates and sugars and its role in ailments ranging from skin conditions, obesity, and heart disease, to food cravings, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, depression, and other mood and behavior afflictions.

Julia Ross calls sugar addiction the “greatest dietary crisis of all time.”  Sally Fallon Morell‘s seminar on traditional diets describes how the vibrant and healthy societies that Weston Price studied quickly succumbed to tooth decay and disease when introduced to the refined foods of modernization.

“All diseases begin in the gut.”  Hippocrates, 460-370 BC

A third recurrent motif of the conference is the role of proper gut health. Chris Kresser presented a well-attended session on the gut, brain, and skin connection and how they are all inter-related.  Joette Calebrese discussed the gut/mind connection with a special emphasis on children’s health and behavior.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride presents a full day seminar at every conference on her healing GAPS diet, which emphasizes restoring proper gut function as a treatment for autism, depression, ADD and many more.

“The child’s digestive system holds the key to the child’s mental development.”  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride

Healing the Planet

“Since any civilization rests or is premised on its resources rather than on institutions, changes in the institution cannot be made in disregard of so basic a resource as the  soil.” Dr. Weston A. Price

The Weston A. Price foundation advocates a holistic view of health and nutrition which includes sourcing foods from organic and biodynamic farmers. This invariably leads to healthier soils and ecosystems.

The Saturday night banquet featured a keynote address by Andrea Malmberg from the Savory Institute. The Savory Institute promotes large scale restoration of the world’s grasslands with holistic management through the use of livestock and thoughtful study of the unique location being restored. This work has profound effects on climate change, food security and sovereignty, and community well-being. Malmberg showed before and after slides of restored grasslands from all over the globe, from South Africa, to Argentina. It was an inspiring message and crucial in a world where city council’s declare “Meatless Mondays” as a message  of health and eco-awareness. How have we been so removed from our traditions to expect healthy societies and sustainable agriculture without animals?

Delicious Fun

The exhibit halls filled with food vendors and specialty products is a highlight of the conference. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to connect with farmers and food vendors directly – many of whom gave presentations at the farm track and “wise entrepreneurs” track. I began each day of the conference with a tasting of fermented cod liver oil and was overwhelmed by the choices of kombucha and other fermented goodies. I discovered some new green cleaning products, non-toxic makeup, and added another dozen books to my reading list.

Best of all, though, are the connections made with new friends and old, and sharing a passion for real food, health, and food justice with hundreds of others.

Get another glimpse of what the conference was like by doing a twitter search with the following hashtags: #wapfconf, #wapfcon, and #WAPF.

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  1. says

    this is so interesting. Ive read on and off about WAP diet, but find it very difficult to implement in a strictly kosher kitchen. Where do you get your raw milk? butter? meats?

  2. says

    I am the Santa Barbara Chapter Leader and was at the conference and can second your comment “I had high expectations being this was my second conference – and was not disappointed.” It truly was great.

    Sina – It is very challenging, but I do not believe it is difficult to implement in a strictly kosher kitchen. Kosher food is a real mess now – for example right now 80% of the beef comes from Argentina and Argentina uses almost 100% GMO seeds. We have NO idea where our food comes from and how it is prepared. The only way we can change that is as Dr. Price said before he died ‘You teach, you teach, you teach’.

    I get my milk and butter from Organic Pastures – I’m sure our ancestors drank this kind of milk – cows raised on the pastures, eating grass (in the Shema, God said ‘I will give you grass for your cattle, not grain, corn and soy), not fed with anti-biotics or growth hormones, tested and inspected daily, and unpasteurized and unhomogenized which denatures the protein structures and kills all the vitamins, probiotics, and beneficial bacteria.

    I don’t know if it got an official kosher seal or not (i’ll ask today), but I’ll say it’s very kosher personally to me and I do not recommend any other milk, butter or cheese except from what is described above.


    • says

      thanks for your reply! i definitely agree that food today is so complicated. I actually have heard of Organic pastures and I need to contact them to see if their milk/butter is always cholov yisroel or if they make a CY batch sometimes. I know they have a kosher certification but I’m not sure what kind.
      i’ve made lots of changes but it’s slow.

  3. says

    I agree Sina, it is more difficult in a strictly kosher kitchen. I get very frustrated walking past local farmers at the farmer’s market selling gass-fed beef and bison and pastured chickens knowing that the day I can get local, ethical, kosher, sustainable source for meat may never happen in my lifetime.

    But you need to look at the big picture and make the best choices with what you have available in your budget. For example, when I run out of kosher grass-fed meat from my buying clubs, I will still go to my local butcher and make my family dinner with the meat they have since I feel it’s better than serving them pasta (as an example) since I’m looking for nutrient density and healthy fats for my growing kids.

    If you can’t find chalav yisroel raw milk (Organic Pastures is not always CY, they make a special batch but not sure how often) you look for organic whole milk from pastured cows. There is kosher certified grass-fed butter available (not raw) but not sure about CY.

    It’s also about what you’re not bringing into your home – staying away from processed snacks and all the other non-food ingredients so prevalent in our kosher markets.

    Weston A Price foundation has a very helpful shopping guide which brakes down categories of food (dairy, cheeses, grains, etc..) into best, good, and not so good options so you can work with what you have available.

    I think basing meals on quality proteins, fats, and vegetables is a good foundation no matter what your source. Tweaking it to optimal levels is a process that I feel needs to be flexible to make it work in a kosher home.

    • says

      Lisa, thanks so much for your reply. I think you really said it eloquently and I sometimes get sidetracked by the feeling that I won’t get it perfect so I sometimes don’t want to put the effort in.

      We generally dont eat red meat for various non-health reasons and I make most of my meals with chicken/turkey that I get either from doheny kosher (i see your from LA, too), or trader joe’s though at some kosher markets they have wise pastured meat, but it’s very expensive so i dont buy it

      i did get in touch with la brea market and am picking up a bottle of raw milk and cream tomorrow (which they certify CY by sending their own mashgiach), which will be nice, but for some reason they dont bring in the butter.

      ill look into the shopping guide which will be helpful… thanks so much again for your reply!

  4. says

    When Dr. Price analyzed the foods used by isolated peoples he found that they lacked dental caries, deformities and degenerative disease. In comparison to the Western diet of his day, their diets provided at least FOUR TIMES the water-soluble vitamins, calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN TIMES the fat-soluble vitamins, from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish, organ meats, eggs and animal fats–the very cholesterol-rich foods now shunned by the public as unhealthful. Whilst different people’s consumed different foods, Dr Price discovered dietary practices common to all isolated groups who had learned through thousands of years of trial and error the appropriate foods for optimum human development.
    silver price recently posted..No last blog posts to return.


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