Communing with the Real Food Movement

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By Chris Kerston

The Savory Institute was recently invited to speak at the Weston Price Foundation’s annual conference “Wise Traditions” which was hosted in Anaheim, California this year. The group wasn’t exactly representative of what you might see on “The Real Housewives of Orange County” or other crazy reality tv shows based on Southern California living – this group was more like a passionate army of real food enthusiasts. Attendees came from all over the world from big cities and small towns alike, comprised of doctors and healthcare professionals, nutritionists, farmers and ranchers, and educated consumers. The last category made an incredible impact on us – regular folks trying to take live a healthy lifestyle, moms and dads with families showed up in throngs, taking time out of their busy lives, to learn about and celebrate healthy living. Over a thousand people attended the event and the energy and passion at the venue was astounding.

If you are unfamiliar with Weston A. Price, the group is named after a dentist who lived about 100 years ago. He had seen a rise in tooth decay and a severe decline in oral health in his career and wanted to figure out why. His nephew worked for National Geographic and would send stories back to his uncle of healthy indigenous people who demonstrated impeccable health. Price decided to close his practice for a few months each year and to begin traveling the world to catalog these people, their diets, and their lifestyles.

He was fairly certain that he’d find out that vegetarian diets were the most healthy. Long story short, he spent many many years traveling all over the globe and found that the closer people lived to the land the healthier they were. Just as his nephew had told him, he found communal people, living self-sustainably, to be extraordinarily sound and fit. As the number of his journeys grew, he found that all cultures had sacred foods that they cherished for increasing fertility, overcoming illness, and minimizing the negative effects of aging. Whether it was insects, organ meats, or seafood all of these cultures had some sort of animal-based product that they revered in their diet. And they all celebrated foods that contained fat, which we know today are crucial for delivery of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and K.

In the time-span of Dr. Price’s life, the number of truly isolated self-sustaining cultures was on the rapid decline as the beginnings of industrialized globalization were afoot. When trading outposts from the modern world would move into an area, in just a few years Price would find a sharp decline in health, measurable differences in skeletal development, crowding of the teeth in children, and tooth decay as well as poor oral health would show up. The doctor meticulously recorded his findings and took many photographs of the changes he was observing.

In the 1990’s a woman by the name of Sally Fallon came across his work and began to organize it and make it more accessible to the general public. She founded the Weston A. Price Foundation and authored the book Nourishing Traditions. The book is a best-seller and has sold over 650,000 copies.

So it was an absolute honor to be invited to speak at their event. On Friday we did an all-day holistic management session in the Farming track. We had three speakers, Allan Savory, myself Chris Kerston, and Spencer Smith co-leader of the Savory Network Hub, The Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, in California. Throughout the day, we all spoke about the most-important subject of regenerating grasslands in order to save civilizations. Allan spoke specifically on Holistic Management, the decision making framework, and the tool of Planned Grazing. Chris spoke about carbon sequestration, climate change, animal behavior, and the work of the Savory Institute. And Spencer spoke about the work their Hub is doing on a local level. We had an enthusiastic crowd and made some strong connections with people interested in taking trainings and implementing what they learned on their land and in their lives.

Saturday evening Allan Savory gave the banquet keynote to the entire thousand-person crowd. Before he began his talk Sally Fallon gave him an award for “Integrity in Science” which was greatly appreciated. Allan spoke about the grave threat of global climate change and desertification and discussed what role consumer food purchasing could play in regenerating the vast landscapes of the world. His message was well-received and got a standing ovation. We stayed late into the night talking with people from all over the world who wanted to ask questions and learn more. We are looking forward to collaborating further with many of the individuals that we met.

Westin A. Price Founder, Sally Fallon, presents Allan with his award.

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