Weston A. Price Foundation: shills and quacks

I've been seeing flyers around lately for a upcoming lecture in D.C. by Weston A. Price Foundation president Sally Fallon. Today I got spam from them about it, which prompts me to post a bit about these shills and quacks.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is one of the primary groups responsible for spreading some of the FUD that you may have heard about soy products. Their interest (both philosophical and financial) is in promoting dairy consumption, specifically raw milk. They make claims about supporting "traditional diets", which would be fine - except that the use of dairy products is fairly new in the 200,000 years history of the human species, dating only to the neolithic revolution of about 10,000 years ago; and of course dairy consumption was just about unknown in many areas of the world where lactose intolerance is common. In fact, Price himself wasn't such an advocate of dairy.

They advocate a diet high in saturated fat, which according to our best scientific knowledge is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. WAPF simply denies that such a link exists, sort of like how tobacco companies simply denied the link between smoking and lung cancer.

On the soy front, they point to studies where animals were injected with extracts of soy protein and got sick, and ignore studies where humans ate traditional soy foods and improved their health. (It is true, though, that overconsumption of processed soy foods is not healthy. Choose tempeh over TVP.)

There's a good series of articles about WAPF at vegsource.com, and a critique of their FUD about vegetarianism at energygrid.com.

Of course, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and they do have a good point about the prevalence of processed food in the standard Western diet. Apart from that, though, it's mostly nonsense.

Aug 2011 update: after three years of comments -- some insightful, some ridiculous -- I've gotten tired of rebutting the same old WAPF propaganda over and over, so I'm closing comments on this post. A final comment here, and a related post here.

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Comments

Re: Newsflash Inuit diet is not

Actually, the idea that the Inuit did not suffer from atherosclerosis before Westernization is a myth -- we have mummified bodies from the Arctic from centuries ago displaying atherosclerotic plaque. I'll be posting an article about Inuit and Masai diet and health in the weeks to come.

How we doing?? Results of the Great Low Fat - high carb diet

The McGovern Committee hearings on diet and Ancel Keys put America through a great social experiment. Fats are bad - Carbs are good. Viz. the American Food Pyramid.
The results: after 40 years of lowfat this and lowfat that we have an out of control obesity and diabetes and cardiac epidemic that is driving our health care costs through the roof.

If we had listened to Weston Price and Robert Atkins we would be living longer and healthier lives and our medical costs would be going down.
You can't argue with vegans who have scruples about killing other living beings but they should realize their health is being compromised. Along with people who eat unfermented soy.
You can't argue with the boys who run this post. Their minds are made up and facts will only enrage them. "Peace" indeed!!!!

obesity - not fats vs. carbs, but too much food!

The reason we have rampant obesity has nothing to do with "lowfat this and lowfat that", but is because our caloric intake increased by 24.5 percent between 1970 and 2000.

And we certainly haven't increased our physical activity by the same amount.

We eat too damn much and exercise too little. Low-fat foods are less caloricly dense, but that doesn't help if you eat twice as much of them.

Your claim that vegans are damaging their health is simply specious; evidence shows that vegans suffer lower level of cancer and heart disease, while Atkins-style diets are dangerous and toxic. And soy foods - including unfermented ones - are beneficial in small, sane amounts; unfortunately, Americans all too often fall into the "if a little is good, more is better!" trap, and start throwing processed soy protein supplements (probably made from GMO soybeans) into everything.

The adult human body doesn't need much protein, and in fact reacts badly to excessive dietary protein; but coming off a meat-heavy diet, many people incorrectly think they need to replace that meat with another high-protein food, and so load their diet with soy (or dairy).

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

What evidence?

Where is the evidence that "Atkins style diets" are toxic and dangerous?

Atkins dangers

  • "Individuals who stick to the high-fat, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets such as the popular 'Atkins Diet' may risk long-term health problems, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA)."
  • "Dr Susan Jebb of the [British] Government-funded Medical Research Council said it would be 'negligent' to recommend it for long-term use and called for research into its safety."
  • "High-protein diets are not recommended because they restrict healthful foods that provide essential nutrients and do not provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs. Individuals who follow these diets are therefore at risk for compromised vitamin and mineral intake, as well as potential cardiac, renal, bone, and liver abnormalities overall."
  • "Followers of the Atkins diet suffer from muscle cramp, diarrhoea, general weakness, and rashes much more frequently than those people on a recommended low-fat diet."
  • The whole concept of the Atkins diets is to get your body to produce ketones, which are toxic substances - yes, your making your body poison itself. It's a high-fat, high cholesterol diet; study after study links high fat diets with increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • "Paul and Lisa Huskey of Columbia, Missouri, say their 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, died of a heart arrhythmia in 2000 while on the diet. Dr. Paul Robinson, a pediatrician at the hospital where Rachel died, said the diet could have caused her death by leaching calcium and potassium from her body.

    "Many doctors and the American Heart Association have warned that the diet could be dangerous. The Heart Association advocates a diet based on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

    "It warned that over time the Atkins diet and similar approaches could raise cholesterol. Other experts have said it might also increase the risk of kidney disease and the PCRM adds osteoporosis and colon cancer to the list of risks. "

Here's Dean Ornish on the topic:




Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

These links are completely

These links are completely worthless as scientific sources for anything.

Ornish is a book salesman.

book salesmen

Ornish is a book salesman.

What, Atkins wasn't?

Ornish does indeed get royalties from his books. Atkins, on the other hand, got royalties not just from his books but from "Atkins Nutritionals" products. And his widow is now using the wealth he accumulated to fund so-called "research" aimed at promoting the Atkins diet.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

re: atkins dangers

i also agree that these links are worthless. tom, the guy who runs this site, just admitted that nutrition science is corporately funded, and yet now he's citing the ADA and a "government-funded medical research council" as sources to back up his arguments.

a brief look at the food guide pyramid will give you an idea of what type of diet is being promoted by our government. the number one source of calories they promote is grain products. that doesnt sound very anti-vegetarian, now, does it? the thing is, the grain industry is subsidized by the government.....of course theyre going to reccommend that grains form the base of the diet.

im curious to see tom's reasons why he considers the ADA to be a legitimate source of information about diet. they are HEAVILY corporately sponsored, and in my opinion are 100% biased. in fact, take a look at this link to a list of nutrition fact sheets on the ADA website:

http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/nutrition_1065_ENU_HTML.htm

from this list, select just about any food item on the list. a pdf file will open up, with lots of information about why that food is part of a "healthy" diet. scroll to the very bottom of the page and on the right-hand side there will be a box that says "this nutrition fact sheet has been sponsored by...." and then the corporate sponsor.

from there, if you visit the sponsor's website, you'll find that the info on the nutrition fact sheet was taken practically word-for-word from their website. not only are these sponsors incredibly biased and clearly have a conflict of interest, but many of them are heavily marketing products that would benefit from these nutrition fact sheets.

as an example, i clicked on the link called "cocoa and chocolate: sweet news!" the pdf goes on about the awesome wonders of chocolate for your health. it is incredibly biased and doesnt provide any real information about the drawbacks for consuming chocolate except to mention at the very end that you should remember that chocolate contains fat and added sugar that contribute calories. i love chocolate as much as the next person, but it seems pretty outrageous to write an article like this without even bothering to mention that chocolate and cocoa contain caffeine, which is the subject of a lot of controversy about its effects on health.

the corporate sponsor at the bottom of the pdf is the hershey center for health and nutrition. i think that pretty much explains why they didnt mention the caffeine thing. this is incredibly transparent propaganda. the ADA claims to be "the worlds largest organization of food and nutrition professionals", and for them to publish this kind of garbage as real nutritional information is apalling. the only reason that anyone has any respect for the ADA is that the average american is too lazy to do the research and figure this stuff out for themselves.

the funny thing is, im not a fan of the atkins diet either. its very overly-commercialized with its nifty bars and shakes and sexy celebrity spokespeople, and it seems to be extremely high protein as well. i agree, high-protein diets can be dangerous. but it is important to have an open mind about these types of things and weigh sources of information fairly. vegetarianism is just another mindset that people can become rigidly locked in, to the extent that they will be just as biased as the people they oppose.

the "grain industry"

the grain industry is subsidized by the government.....of course theyre going to reccommend that grains form the base of the diet.

The "grain industry" -- at least the part that grows grain for human consumption -- is not even a fraction as subsidized as the meat and dairy industries. About three quarters of farm subsidies go to the meat and dairy industries.

Most of the "grain industry" is based around producing animal feed. 55% of corn goes for animal feed -- and with about 14% for ethanol, and 7 percent for sweeteners, and some bit for other industrial uses, that leaves less than one in four bushels for direct human consumption. The "grain industry" is very happy to have you eating meat, dairy, and eggs.

Have you ever seen a TV ad, "Wheat: it's what's for dinner"? Or a billboard saying, "Got Rice"? But I'll bet you've seen USDA funded milk or meat ads.

It is because the federal government is so supportive of the meat and dairy industries, so heavily biased towards animal agriculture, that getting them to recommend a diet based on grains and vegetables is noteworthy. It's like getting the government of North Carolina to admit that smoking tobacco isn't healthy, or the government of Florida to say something unflattering about Disney.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

Atkins is a different topic

Just for the record - and I come straight from a Sally Fallon talk - WAPF recommendations seem quite different from Atkins and she specifically warns against excess protein in the diet and DIScourages lean meat consumption.

Dairy

It's pretty ridiculous to claim that we should not consume dairy because it's only been part of the human diet since the Neolithic, while, at the same time, approximately, is when agriculture began, i.e., the raising of the whole grains and legumes (like soy) that you are endorsing. Before that, hundreds of thousands of years of hunting and gathering. So why is whole grain somehow acceptable even though it's just as new to the human diet as dairy?

Several traditional cultures have lived on diets that had raw and/or fermented dairy as a staple, including isolated alpine villages and African tribes, the most well known of which is probably the Masai, who live on beef, blood, and milk, and a few plant foods.

Weston Price himself believed in veganism from the philosophical point of view, and one of his agendas in researching the many indigenous groups all around the world was to find people who were living on traditional, vegan diets and were in good health. He was unable to find any culture that thrived on a completely vegan diet -- he was unable to find any traditional culture at all that lived on a completely vegan diet. All at the very least ate insects for some animal protein and fat. Veganism sounds very compassionate, but the reality is, humans are omnivores.

As for the cholesterol concerns, you might want to check out THINCS.org, The International Network of cholesterol Skeptics, a think tank of international scientists and physicians who do not accept the current lipid hypothesis. The current hypothesis was based on Ancel Keye's report in the 1950's on some countries and their intake of fat and their incidence of heart disease. Internationally, his research has been generally debunked because he carefully handpicked the countries that fit his theory, and left out the rest. There were 7 of them that fit, which is why it's called the Seven Countries Study, whereas if you add in the full 23 countries he had data for, the correlation between fat intake and heart disease is nonexistent.

"traditional" dairy

My point was not "dairy is new to the diet and so should be avoided", but rather that that argument that "dairy consumption is an ancient and traditional" is specious.

In point of fact, the "traditional" status of a food tells us nothing about whether or not it is healthful for humans to eat it.

Veganism is indeed compassionate. Humans can thrive as herbivores; saying they "are ominivores" when a significant number of them are not, and are quite healthy, is sloppy thinking. So what if no traditional cultures were vegan? The truth or falsity of that question is uninformative as to the health and ethical issues surrounding vegetarian and vegan diets.

There is no significant scientific doubt about the lipid hyopthesis. THINCS belongs in the dustbin with "skeptics" who claim that smoking doesn't cause cancer and that CO2 emissions don't cause climate change. That's not to say that all the details are understood, but there is strong and clear scientific consensus that diets high in animal fat raise the risk of artery diseases.

Tom Swiss - proprietor, unreasonable.org

to tom

im a little confused as to how the traditional status of a food says nothing about whether it is healthy or not. heart disease and cancer are modern diseases. so are chronic fatigue syndrome, ADD, bipolar disorder, etc. these diseases moved in as soon as man developed the modern diet of processed food and sugar, and fear of cholesterol and saturated fat.

look dude, i can sympathize with you because i used to be a vegetarian as well, for ethical as well as health reasons. i also probably agree with you on a lot of other things. but it seems to me that you are clinging to a belief system. i think its very important to question your beliefs and revise them if necessary. its difficult because sometimes it feels like a slap in the face, but its a lot less humiliating in the long run to admit you were wrong than to cling to outdated beliefs.

as a vegetarian, i tried to do everything "right" in my diet....i avoided junk food and based my diet on whole grains and legumes. i ate tofu and other processed soy food, and lots of raw and cooked vegetables. i love dairy products and always ate them, but one day i was horrified to find out that most cheeses are made using rennet, which is a substance in the fourth stomach of a newborn calf. after that i stopped eating cheese almost a year.

in the two years that i was a vegetarian, i felt the lousiest that ive ever felt in my life. the last 8 months of it were terrible. i felt low energy ALL THE TIME. i felt lethargic and irritable. i had eczema problems and lots of headaches. i couldnt shake the feeling that there was something i was missing in my diet that i desperately needed.

by accident i came across the writings of weston price. i read about his travels and saw the pictures of the teeth and faces of healthy primitive people. i was immediately struck by how healthy and vibrant these people all looked, and the fact that they all ate animal protein of various sorts.

after a great deal of research into the subject, i eventually decided to start eating meat again. this was not a decision that i took lightly. after all, only weeks earlier i was disgusted by the idea of eating meat, and felt that it was cruel and unnecessary. however, the things that weston price has documented show simply that people need animal products for optimum health. that doesnt have to include meat, but in my case, that was the only source of good quality animal protein available to me. i didnt have access to raw dairy products, but grass-fed beef was abundant.

as soon as i started eating meat again, my health problems disappeared. i also feel like a healthier person emotionally, because in order to eat meat, i had to reevaluate my "ethical stance." i realize now that death is a part of life, and that all things have to die in order for life to go on. killing an animal for food doesnt have to be the terrible thing that it often is. animals can live a dignified life, with room to roam, sun and shade, other creatures, and their natural diet. they can also be killed and eaten with thankfullness. it is difficult to accept, but i truly believe that underlying many vegetarians' choices is a deep-seated fear of death. our meat comes prepackaged in forms that dont resemble the original animal at all. most of the animals led terrible, unhealthy, dirty, miserable lives. its wonderful that you feel for these animals and wish for their wellbeing, but that doesnt automatically mean that all meat-eating is wrong. the traditional way of raising livestock is a far cry from the factory farm, allows the animals to lead a healthy happy life. if you still object to eating meat from sources such as these, then i can only conclude that the idea of death makes you very uncomfortable, and you are basing your life choices on the fear of death. thats pretty sad.

it was hard for me to make the transition because i had to admit that everything i thought i knew about health (and death) was wrong. its a bit humiliating, but i think it shows a certain maturity to be able to cast off beliefs that no longer serve you. after all, if we can never admit that we are wrong, we can never grow as people.

my former beliefs about health came from the mainstream media. just about everyone believes that vegetarianism and veganism is healthy, and its something that very few people question. i find the quote at the top of this page ironic: "all progress depends on the unreasonable man.." it seems to me that most of your beliefs, about diet at least, go along with the status quo: vegetarianism is healthier than eating meat, saturated fat and cholesterol are evil, soy is good. arent these the things that the fda is telling us???? the same fda that approves drugs that they know are extremely dangerous??? the same fda that tells us that aspartame is perfectly safe??? i dont know about you, but i dont trust those guys.

soy is subsidized by the government. that alone should strike fear into your heart. this is the same government that tortures people and deprives them of basic liberties in the name of freedom. they put fluoride into our water when they know damn well that its a toxic waste product and does nothing for our dental health. knowing this, are we going to just lie down and accept everything they say when it comes to diet? i sure as hell am not. it really bothers me that you automatically reject anything that would contradict your own lifestyle.

if you can find me one valid study from a disinterested party that shows that grass-fed beef is detrimental to health, ill give you credit. all of the studies i have seen that "prove" that red meat is bad for you were done using factory farmed beef, which we all know is terrible for health. after all, not only is the cow not eating its natural diet, but it is subjected to undue stress and suffering, and is injected will all sorts of hormones, anti-biotics, and vaccines. it is simply a different product from grass-fed beef, much the same way that pasteurized milk is not the same as raw milk. to lump these things together and declare them evil is incredibly ignorant and defies all logic.

in conclusion, i really hope that anyone who reads this will make an effort to question things, ESPECIALLY their own belifs.

Ethics

Your idea of "modern" diseases like cancer and heart disease is quite disingenuous. People die, and modern medicine can give us insight on the mechanisms, but the fundamental fact never changes.

Same with mental health, you jump right to the conclusion that diet is responsible. For ADD, what about holding parents that sit their children in front of video games and television sets instead of reading to them responsible? Chronic fatigue is more likely tied to the fact that people are becoming increasingly sedentary, spending less time outdoors and developing allergies to pollutants at an increasing rate.
Bipolar has a known history that stretches back at least to ancient Greece, perhaps it is overdiagnosed now.

in the two years that i was a vegetarian, i felt the lousiest that ive ever felt in my life. the last 8 months of it were terrible. i felt low energy ALL THE TIME. i felt lethargic and irritable. i had eczema problems and lots of headaches. i couldnt shake the feeling that there was something i was missing in my diet that i desperately needed.

What you really needed was some fortitude. But then again, the grocer doesn't sell that. You seriously sound like a drug addict in withdrawals. Need the dopamine fix provided by grease rolling down your chin? You're in luck, they do sell that!

animals can live a dignified life, with room to roam, sun and shade, other creatures, and their natural diet. they can also be killed and eaten with thankfullness. it is difficult to accept, but i truly believe that underlying many vegetarians' choices is a deep-seated fear of death. our meat comes prepackaged in forms that dont resemble the original animal at all. most of the animals led terrible, unhealthy, dirty, miserable lives. its wonderful that you feel for these animals and wish for their wellbeing, but that doesnt automatically mean that all meat-eating is wrong. the traditional way of raising livestock is a far cry from the factory farm, allows the animals to lead a healthy happy life. if you still object to eating meat from sources such as these, then i can only conclude that the idea of death makes you very uncomfortable, and you are basing your life choices on the fear of death. thats pretty sad.

Here is an idea: I want to sell your kidneys and liver. But outright butchering would be inhumane, right? How about I put you in the nicest hotel money can buy, for two months, and then I hack you to death with a machette after you enjoy the complimentary room service and spa? Feel better? That nice blissful period was beyond anything a human could have expected in our evolutionary phase. How nice of me. And profitable. And after I place them in an ice cooler, no one even has to remember they were yours. They might even be thankful.

it was hard for me to make the transition because i had to admit that everything i thought i knew about health (and death) was wrong. its a bit humiliating, but i think it shows a certain maturity to be able to cast off beliefs that no longer serve you.

How wonderful. You traded in your integrity for a tasty meal. You would make Esau proud!

this is the same government that tortures people and deprives them of basic liberties in the name of freedom.

And why would you give a shit? The government is just a few more steps ahead of you when coming up with reasons to make doing unethical things seem like a good idea.

they put fluoride into our water when they know damn well that its a toxic waste product and does nothing for our dental health

Oh my. I really must have a steak now, before they are all gone, taken by the gmo commies! The government, which puts flouride in the water to protect our teeth, which is the same government that refuses to deny people the right to consume soy, must be secretly conspiring against good meat.

subjected to undue stress and suffering, and is injected will all sorts of hormones, anti-biotics, and vaccines. it is simply a different product from grass-fed beef, much the same way that pasteurized milk is not the same as raw milk.

Stress and suffering? You acknowledge that the animal experiences stress and suffering, but it only matters when it comes to taste and nutrient value? How altruistic.

i think its very important to question your beliefs and revise them if necessary. its difficult because sometimes it feels like a slap in the face, but its a lot less humiliating in the long run to admit you were wrong than to cling to outdated beliefs.

You are a spineless coward who could justify about anything that causes "inconvenience" to your dear and precious self. Need some gas desperately? Not stealing is just an outdated belief. After all, it would take longer to walk, and that might make you sweat or the sun could give you a headache!

____ Why don't you just say "I WANT TO EAT MEAT" _________

And spare people a hundred excuses.

My conclusion:

If you really believe a bite of meat is one step closer to immortality, then I hope you choke on it! After all, you don't fear death do you?

re: ethics

wow, youre really bitter, arent you? you sound so angry, and all i did was state my opinion in a respectful manner. i really appreciate you calling me a spineless coward. very mature. its also great how you painted a picture of me as a meat-addict going through withdrawals. nice spin, but not even close. i have never eaten much meat, and it was a breeze to become vegetarian. i never once craved meat. there is a MAJOR difference between craving something that tastes good and sufferring health problems due to lack of nutrients. i guess the "humane" thing to do would have been to continue to suffer, right mr. ethics?

im a big fan of how you subtly implied that i think soy should be outlawed. for the record, i believe that the government should not be involved in telling people what they can and cant put into their bodies. that goes for cigarrettes as much as it does for soy. if the government were to try to outlaw soy products, i would support the peoples right to have access to soy.

on another note, i am not making excuses for why i eat meat. yet another asinine assumption. i got along just fine without meat for 2 years. during that 2 years i was just as disgusted by the idea of eating meat as you are. one time i accidently ate a sauce that had meat in it, and i just about puked. i started eating meat after realizing that i was not getting enough fat-soluble vitamins in my diet to be truly healthy. vitamins A and D are found in meat, organ meats, seafood, eggs, and raw dairy. im interested to hear your idea of how people could have survived (and thrived) for thousands of years without an adequate source of vitamins A and D in their diets. it seems to me that if our bodies require something, then it only makes sense to consume that thing. much the same way that animals consume other animals because they require the nutrients that those other animals provide. why would it be any different for humans?

let me ask you this: is it ethical to completely misrepresent someone by twisting around their words and stating your own assumptions about that person as fact? i dont think so. its also not ethical to be a total asshole to someone who has not said anything inflammatory to you. i would have liked to have a real discussion, but i guess its impossible. everyone clings so desperately to their beliefs, and it seems to make them angry. to me, if being a vegetarian makes you happy and gives you a sense of fullfillment for doing what you believe to be the right thing, then thats great! but that doesnt seem to be the case. i highly doubt that someone who is truly happy and satisfied with themselves would be saying some of the things that you are saying to complete strangers. i guess misery loves company.

is it ethical to attack someone just because they are a member of a group that you have decided you dont like? i would never judge someone just because they are a vegetarian, but you judge me because i eat meat. let me give you a hint: if youre trying to convince someone that you are right, it doesnt usually help to say hateful things in a bitter tone. wishing death on someone in the name of ethics seems pretty hypocritical, and is not likely to win you any supporters.

in conclusion, if you want people to take you seriously, dont preach about ethics while being a total prick at the same time. that just doesnt make sense.

re:ethics

AMEN!

Just a thank you.

Tom, just wanted to thank you for your efforts here. You have far more patience than I do. I was trying to find some info on other sites and when the comments were taken over by trolls, desperate to have someone of knowledge and science, attempt to sway intelligent opinion, the other bloggers/writers went on with their real lives of research and dissemination, and you have made time to continue to try to educate here. So, I thank you.
Dachia Arritola

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