A Food Revolution Manifesto
Book Review: Nourishing Traditions
I have had the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon in my possession for about 5 years. It has been one of my favorite “cookbooks”. The recipe section of the book is well worn and I have enjoyed most of the new foods and cooking techniques found throughout its pages. In every section, she has wonderful little tidbits of information in the margins that complement the food at hand.
What I never realized until I took the Nutritional Consultant course through Nutritional Therapy Association, is that this book is more than a collection of recipes, tidbits and unique cooking techniques. It turns out that it is a wealth of eye opening information.
In the Introduction of the book are pages I have seen on numerous occasions, but never read through methodically, until now. These pages are more than just an introduction, it is now on my list of “Must Reads”. Sally Fallon has grabbed my attention and has established in my mind that the recipes in this book are more than just recipes, they are a revolution, not just for a way of eating, but a way of thinking. She calls for a return to eat more like our ancestors did, enjoying the abundance of food found as closely to its creative state as possible, and nourishing meals prepared according to the customs of people globally who enjoyed vitality and quality of life, quite unlike the typical American of today.
As stated in the preface of the book, chronic illness is epidemic in this country, and fake foods are affecting us more as each generation passes. The work of Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneer in nutrition, gave us a warning that we have not heeded and we continue to pay the price. The voice of the past continues to be drowned out by the industrialization of our nation, the chemical revolution, the big food giants and various government agencies to whom we have given over the control of our food.
We are a diseased people, the Introduction will tell you, and it’s true. The medical industry has not saved us from the food giants who denature our food. Instead, they are profiting themselves while ignoring the obvious harmful effects or the evidence against processed foods. Ms. Fallon accurately states that we have forgotten that our natural state is one of balance, wholeness and vitality. We need a revolution.
If you have ever studied the work of Dr. Price, then you know the value of food that he discovered and documented in his work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Knowing this will make you appreciate this book even more. What Ms. Fallon has accomplished is a how to guide for taking Dr. Price’s discoveries and putting them into action for you and your family in the kitchen. She describes the value of fat, animal proteins, carbohydrates, fermentation, the proper preparation of nuts, grains and seed, minerals, and much more. She also touches on the attempts to taint our food supply for profit by addressing the refining of our grains, sugar and oils, and she also calls out those who have wrongly applied principles of nutrition with little facts or using skewed research. Another interesting angle mentioned in the book is the corruption of our food supply on multiple levels - from farming, to processing, to packaging. Reader beware, she spares no feelings of the politically correct foodies of the modern day. She speaks truth even when it hurts.
There are too many priceless nutritional concepts within the pages of this book to mention them all, but I would like to comment on a few. Since Ms. Fallon spends a vast amount of time on dietary fats in the introduction of the book, I can’t help but remark on the biggest shocker of the book for me: the refinement of our oils, also known as “hydrogenation”. I knew margarine and shortening, also known as trans-fats, were harmful, but I didn’t understand the gravity of it all. Sally Fallon recommends we avoid these solid oils “like the plague”. Those are strong words. First the extraction process for the oils, which was once done with large slow moving stone press, is now done by heating the seeds to 230 degrees and placing them under high pressure. During this process the oils are exposed to light and oxygen, causing rancidity. Toxic solvents are used on the seeds to make the process easier and then eventually boiled off. The weak carbon bonds of the unsaturated fatty acids break apart during this process causing free radicals that can damage cells and proteins in the body. Other not-so desirable chemicals are added as preservatives. From here the oils, now rancid from extraction, undergo the hydrogenation process, basically turning the oil from a liquid to a solid. They are mixed with metal particles, often nickel oxide, as catalyst for the hydrogen and placed under high temperatures and pressure again as emulsifiers and starches are added for consistency. The oils have a strong odor after the procedure is complete, which is removed by more high temperatures in a steam bath. What’s left is a grey colored product hardly recognizable from its original form. This grey colored and unflavored product won’t do because it is not pleasing to the customer, so the grey is removed by bleach and then colorings and flavors that resemble the natural nutritious God-given butter is added and it’s promoted as a health food.
Another concept worth mentioning is Ms. Fallon’s encouragement to really consider one’s diet in regards to sugar and refined carbohydrates. She details the chemistry of sugar explaining the difference in the various types of sugar (sucrose, glucose, maltose, etc.) and their effects on the systems in the body. Glucose is essential to almost every cellular function in the body, including energy, thinking and moving. But eating refined sugar and carbohydrates is not how we accomplish this particular nutritional need. As a matter of fact, some isolated groups of people explored by Dr. Price ate no carbs at all and enjoyed great quality of life. Never in the history of man have we consumed refined carbohydrates, our ancestors only ate unrefined carbs in the form of fruits and grains consumed in their whole form with all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat and fiber placed therein by God to properly metabolize them to be used in the body appropriately. Refined grains have had the vitamin and mineral components stripped from them and are basically “empty calories”. When refined sugar and starch are consumed without the appropriate fats and protein, it enters the blood stream quickly and causes an increase in blood sugar. The body’s mechanism for response is flooding the system with insulin and hormones to bring the levels down. When sugar is eaten continually, and it is in almost every processed food we consume, the body remains at this heightened state of response and becomes worn out and unable to continue to do the job. During this state of stress the body is depleted of its vitamin, mineral and enzyme stores, which keep the body in good repair and the result is degenerative disease, allergies, obesity, drug addiction, depression, learning disabilities, behavior problems - and the depressing list continues. Often the treatments for these issues offered to us by main stream medicine cause more harm than good and too often we are not encouraged to get off the sugar addiction to improve our condition. Many modern studies confirm that sugar is a problem, even being culpable in heart disease, but the results of these studies are often denied or suppressed in the interest of those who profit from our tainted food or the illnesses that result. These refined carbohydrates are indeed highly addictive, readily available and a challenge to give up. Even once you are aware of how devastating to the body they can truly be, the struggle to remove them from your diet remains real. Be assured that you will reap the rewards of giving up and conquering the refined carb addiction, so press on.
If you have encountered Sally Fallon outside of this wonderful book, then you know a great passion of hers is the topic of raw milk. It was this issue which originally introduced me to the work of Ms. Fallon. Raw milk is quite the controversial topic and one she does not leave out of a book on nutritious foods. She begins with the cows which give the milk that can be found at the supermarket by calling them “freaks of nature”. They are manufactured to give more milk by selective breeding for an over active pituitary gland. They are often fed high protein and given hormones (transferred to the milk itself) to further the production. The soy beans fed to the cows are almost always genetically modified and are highly unnatural food for a cow. The milk is then heated, giving it a longer shelf life, and the process alters the milk’s composition completely. Pasteurization is often touted as the equivalent of “cleanliness”, but it’s not so, as Ms. Fallon points out. All outbreaks of salmonella in recent decades involving milk had been pasteurized, in one case 14,000 people were infected resulting in one death. Yet, pasteurized milk is still sold and raw milk is demonized. Milk, known as “white blood” in some cultures, isn’t at all what God made it to be by time it reaches your refrigerator and many illnesses, such as ear infections, cancer and diabetes, are often blamed on this treasure. The book continues its topic of milk by covering sourcing and proper preparation to obtain the greatest benefits from it.
The short review of this book that I have written is most assuredly a vast injustice of the wisdom and guidance that this book contains, not just for the kitchen, but for the mind. Everything Sally Fallon teaches in this valuable resource aligns itself with the philosophy of the Nutritional Therapy Association. I can’t stress enough my recommendation to read this book and put the recipes into practice in your home. She covers many more topics like fermentation, cholesterol, sprouting grains, traditional food preparation, food allergies, food additives, artificial sweeteners, salt, spices, minerals, vitamins, enzymes and so very much more! Her goal is to inspire you towards healthy nourishing meals which are creative, delicious and satisfying. I think she proficiently accomplished just that.