Today I am going to discuss the basics of traditional foods. First I will share the “what” – what are traditional foods? Next I will share the “why” – why are traditional foods healthy? Keep reading to learn more about traditional foods.
I am a 90’s child. Growing up I ate easy mac, pop tarts, fruit loops, and lunchables. In other words, I ate a radically different diet than the one that nourished my great-grandmother. And all of my ancestors before her. My health has suffered for it, to be sure.
When I was 22 I began an herbalism apprenticeship. My teacher introduced me to the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price. As well as the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. These books changed my whole perspective on food.
Who is Dr. Weston A. Price? And Why is His Study Trustworthy?
Dr. Weston A. Price (1870-1948) was a dentist. From the early 1920’s to 1930’s he traveled the world studying the health and diets of traditional peoples. The traditional cultures he studied include Gaelic communities from the Outer Hebrides, Indigenous tribes in South America, the Maori of New Zealand, and more.
The people eating traditional diets had essentially no tooth decay, cavities or “diseases of civilization” (for example cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease). However, the people of the same culture who were eating industrialized diets began to develop these conditions.
When Dr. Price analyzed the foods consumed in traditional diets, he found that they contained 400% more water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C. In addition they contained 1000% more fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. That is a huge difference!
I find Dr. Price’s study trustworthy first because of the photo evidence. His book has dozens of photos showing the difference in facial structure between those on traditional diets and those on industrialized diets. Not only that, but also it just makes sense. Traditional foods are the ones that God designed for us to eat. So of course they would be healthiest for us!
Also check out the Weston A. Price Foundation website for plentiful information on traditional diets. You can find your local Weston A. Price chapter leader and contact them for help finding traditional foods near you.
What Are Traditional Foods?
As stated above, traditional foods are those that God designed for us to eat. Our great-grandparents would recognize them. Traditional foods include:
- Pasture raised and wild animals (including their fat, organs and eggs)
- Raw grass-fed full fat dairy
- Bone broth
- Seasonal, local, organic fruits and vegetables
- Soaked, soured or sprouted whole grains and legumes (like sourdough breads)
- Raw honey, tree syrups (maple, birch, walnut, etc.) and raw cane sugar
- Lacto-fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut)
- Lacto-fermented beverages (like kombucha)
- Unrefined sea salt
Why Are Traditional Foods Healthy?
Generally speaking traditional foods are nutrient dense and easy to digest. I will (briefly) explain the specific health benefits of various traditional foods below.
Pasture Raised and Wild Animals:
This includes fish, poultry, beef, lamb, pork and game. Also organ meats like liver, bird and fish eggs, and fats like lard and tallow.
Foods from pasture raised and wild animals contain much more nutrients than those from conventional/factory farms. Specifically more fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K2). Not only that, but also pasture raised and wild animal foods will be free from antibiotics, growth hormones and most pesticides (like glyphosate “round up”).
Traditional diets notably ate “nose-to-tail” and favored organ meats like liver. In fact, liver from pasture raised animals is thought to be the most nutrient dense food on the planet.
Also, saturated fats from pasture raised and wild animals are the healthiest forms of fats, contrary to popular belief! Saturated fats are stable and are less likely to go rancid than unsaturated fats (plant oils). They provide A, D and K2. In addition, they support hormone production and balance.
Raw Grass-Fed Full Fat Dairy:
This includes milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese and butter.
Raw milk contains beneficial enzymes as well as high levels of fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K. The benefits of milk are destroyed with pasteurization. Raw milk is one of the easiest foods to digest, while pasteurized milk is one of the top food allergens. Raw milk consumption has been linked to increased resistance to allergies, asthma, respiratory infections, and eczema.
Bone broth made from the bones of pasture raised and wild animals is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. In addition, it is a great source of gelatin. Bone broth is healing to the gut lining, anti-inflammatory, and it supports healthy joints, hair, skin and nails.
You can read more about the nourishing benefits of bone broth in my post here.
Soaked, Soured And Sprouted Whole Grains And Legumes:
This includes sourdough breads, soaked wholegrains, sprouted wholegrains, nixtamalized corn, soaked legumes and sprouted legumes.
Grains and legumes contain anti-nutrients like phytic acid, which make them difficult to digest. However, when we soak, sour or sprout these foods we are better able to digest them and absorb their nutrients. In traditional diets grains and legumes were always properly prepared. For example soaked oats for porridge and oatcakes. Also nixtamalized corn masa. And of course, sourdough breads!
You can learn to make your own sourdough starter from scratch with my recipe here.
Lacto-Fermented Foods and Beverages:
This includes sauerkraut, cucumber pickles, pickled vegetables, kombucha and water kefir.
Lacto-fermentation uses good bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, that is naturally present in the environment to prevent bad bacteria growth in your preserved food. Lacto-fermented foods and drinks contain gut-healthy probiotics. They are easy to digest and their nutrient content is readily absorbed by the body.
All traditional diets that Dr. Weston A. Price studied contained some form of lacto-fermented food or drink.
A Word About Health…
I believe that health is important. If I don’t feel healthy I am not able to work as hard to serve my family and to serve God. However, I think health must be pursued with the right perspective.
We are all sinners living in a broken world. The wages for our sin are death and disease. Our earthly bodies of flesh are not redeemable. And no matter how hard we try, our earthly body will succumb to disease, death and brokenness in the end.
If we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior, then our souls have already been redeemed. And we will be resurrected one day in a glorified perfect body. One that will never decay. And we will live in a perfect world where nothing ever breaks, where disease and death have no reach.
Our perfect health is not something we work for and earn. It is a free gift from our loving creator through Jesus Christ.
“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him,
for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear,
Now to His temple draw near;
Sing now in glad adoration!”
(From a favorite hymn, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty by Joachim Neander written in the 1680s)
Download My Free Traditional Foods Stock List:
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