Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sally Fallon

I just got home from the Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury (Boston), where I attended a dinner to benefit their Youth Cooking Program, a fabulous program that helps teens learn to cook and to broaden their outlook on the world. To quote the website:
Food can teach us to overcome resistance and negativity to something new (which is our inclination) by yielding to exploration or curiosity so that the truth can reveal itself…Learning to overcome pre-conceptions of unfamiliar foods and dishes through cooking is an excellent tool in learning how to overcome or shed resistance and prejudice in other parts of one's life.
Fabulous as that program may be, what got me there tonight was not this program, but the speaker, Sally Fallon. Every so often, I have an experience that fundamentally changes how I look at some part of the world. Reading Sally Fallon's first book, Nourishing Traditions, was such an experience for me. "The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats," says the front cover. In it, she claims that much of what the "experts" tell us about nutrition is wrong. Vegetable oils are bad—animal fats are good—pasteurization is bad—meat is necessary—and more. One giant difference between her book and any of the "diet" books of the last 20 years is that her arguments are airtight and backed up by copious unimpeachable references. Perhaps even more importantly, her ideas simply MAKE SENSE and ring true, in a way that the claims of the one-trick-pony diet books really don't. And what she describes is not a "diet" in the modern, punitive sense of the word, but rather a way of eating. I recommend her book to everyone who will listen. Are you listening? (I learned about her book when I read The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved by Sandor Ellix Katz, another great book about food, another book that catalyzed a fundamental change for me.)
I had arrived at the dinner early, and taken a seat at the table closest to the microphone, so that I wouldn't miss any of the action. I was very pleased when Sally Fallon and two of her cohorts joined me at my table for dinner. SF is the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and her cohorts are leaders of local chapters of the same foundation. (Weston Price was a health researcher in the first part of the 20th century whose work provided a starting point for Sally Fallon's. In creating his masterwork, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, after visiting hundreds of cities in fourteen countries, Weston Price found that groups of people eating "traditional" diets were healthy, and those same groups of people eating "modern" diets were not. Obviously the story is much longer, but that is the gist of it.) Our dinner conversation centered around the day's business: Sally's book, nutrition, food-related problems in the world, etc. We spend some time on the subject of raw milk, and came to the subject of the trial of Michael Schmidt in Canada for the crime of selling raw milk. One of us, perhaps I, had the idea of starting a religion that required the consumption of raw milk, as a defense against some of the legal impediments to the production and distribution of raw milk. SF thought that this was a great idea, and that I should do it. And in fact, when later during the night I asked her to sign my copy of her book, she said she would do it on the condition that I start a religion that required consuming raw milk. After thinking about it a little bit, I agreed. After all, I am already an ordained minister; it is only fitting that I have a religion; and it should certainly have something to do with food.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll join that religion, Alex. I think you are on to something here!