I am currently reading Weston A Price’s tome ‘Nutrition and Physical Degeneration’.
I LOVE IT!!
Honestly, I can not overstate how fascinating this book is. I have borrowed a friend’s copy and have been trying to rush to the end before I need to give it back.
It was originally published in 1939 and there are some things in it that are a little dated* but there is so much in it that is precious and unique (at least in my limited experience).
It is fascinating on an anthropological level. Last night I stayed up late reading about the Aborigines/ Maoris. Did you know that ‘they can see the satellites of Jupiter which are only visible to the white man’s eye with the aid of telescopes. These people prove that they can see the satellites by telling the man at the telescope when the eclipse of one of the stars occurs.’ (152) Wow! I loved the chapter on the ancient civilisations of Peru: Chimus, Incas then the Spaniards. The Incas were able to make irrigation systems that enabled them to benefit from the mineral rich deposits in their area and grow a wide variety of crops (quinoa anyone?) in dessert land. It literally did not rain in this area for 1000 years or so and many cultures have struggled under these conditions but they managed to feed a thriving culture.
However, it is riveting on a health level. There is a lot of detail and if you do not love detail you may not love every page of this book, but you will love to understand the implications.
I understood the basic premise of the book before reading. Weston Price, a denlist, is concerned about the state of Amerian’s teeth and general health. He goes in search of people in excellent health to be a test group in order that he may compare these people with his contemporary Americans. So he and his trusty wife, Florence, traipse to the four corners of the world searching out remote peoples who have not had a lot of trade contact with the white man and his flour and sugar. It turns out that contact with this white flour and sugar leads not only to cavities, which I think we would expect, but actually to gross changes in bone structure which leads to the narrowing of the dental palate and the wider bone structure in the body. This occurs everywhere throughout the world where there is contact with western food.
Reading this book makes me want to understand our own British nourishing heritage. Price visits the Gaelic islands and notes very good health in those people who despite never having seen milk, and living on a very limited diet are in very good health. ‘Their excellent nutrition is provided by oat products and fish, and by a very limited amount of vegetable foods. Lobsters and flat fish are a very important part of their foods. Fruits are practically unknown. Yet the physiques of these people are remarkably fine.’ (45) There also seems to be some benefit to health from the black houses, where peat is burnt and blackens the low thatch roofs.
We do not live by the sea. We do not have a thatched house where we can burn peat, a ready access to lobsters and flat fish. Despite living relatively close to the Gaelic islands I am sure that we have an entirely different nourishing heritage and I am really keen to find out what that is!
*ahem, sometimes a bit downright offensive