What do raw milk, kombucha, probiotics, trans-fat avoidance and nose-to-tail eating have in common?
Yes, they've all come into vogue over the last few years. But they were on the fringe when Sally Fallon advocated them more than a decade ago in "Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats."
Since 1999, the book, co-written with Mary G. Enig, has gone on to sell more than 400,000 copies and serves as bible for many who have adopted Weston Price diets. These eating styles emphasize nutrient dense, whole foods and animal fats, and are based on the research of Price, a Cleveland dentist, who in the 1920s and '30s traveled the world researching the traditional diets of healthy cultures.
The practical principals of this research served as the basis for "Nourishing Traditions," which, like the Atkins Diet books, eschews refined carbohydrates while controversially promoting the consumption of fat, especially from pastured animals and coconuts. In recent years, some of the nation's top nutritional scientists also have concluded that carbohydrates — not fat — are primarily to blame for our growing girths, but that's not to say Fallon's recommendations mirror mainstream advice.
As president of the non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation, Fallon organized a press conference at the Washington D.C. National Press Club in February to dispute the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And her work further diverges from government advice by promoting raw milk and plenty of butter.
We chatted by phone with Fallon, who will appear at the Family Farmed Expo Saturday at the UIC Forum, 725 West Roosevelt Road.
Q: What can visitors expect from your talk on Saturday?
A: I have a seminar that I do on traditional diets, trying to answer the question: What is a healthy diet? So the answer draws heavily from the work of Weston Price and looks at the way traditional people ate. And even though the diets may have been very different in different parts of the world, there are underlying characteristics that we can find in all of them.
Q: Many of the things you promote — lard, butter, sprouted grains, kefir, kombucha and raw milk to name a few — have taken off in the years since the release of your book. Why do you think that is?
A: I think these principals work for people. Also, I am not telling people to eat foods they don't like. This diet is really delicious. It includes great fat (but no transfat), good sauces and bone broths. People love the lacto-fermented foods and we don't tell people not to eat sweets, we just tell them what kinds of sweeteners to use. We also tell people that salt is very important in a diet.
Q: Tell me about the upcoming (at the time of the interview) press conference on the Dietary Guidelines.
A: We will have scientists and health professionals talking about their grave concerns about these guidelines, which are more of the same diet that has launched the obesity epidemic and worsened the health status of Americans…There is no limit on sweeteners.
Q: What do you make of the lack of sugar limits?
A: Pressure from the corn and sugar industry. And when you take fat out of the food you basically have to replace it with refined carbohydrates and refined sweeteners.
Q: Kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea made with a pancake of yeasty bacteria, might seem like a hard sell for Americans. So why are they now brewing and drinking millions of servings a year?
A: I think people are desperately looking for a healthy and palatable alternative to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. And kombucha fills that niche very nicely.
Q: Where do you think the progressive food movement—in its many forms--is headed these days?
A: I think it's in its infancy and only going to get bigger and bigger. I think within 20 years raw milk will be available everywhere. There's no greater force than the educated consumer and consumers are finally waking up.
Sustainable food festival blossoms this weekend
Chicago hosts a lot of food festivals each year, but few blend in agriculture and education as well as the Family Farmed Expo.
Now in its sixth year the Expo will run from Thursday March 17 to Saturday March 19. The first two days are mostly for policy and industry folks, but Saturday's Good Food Festival should appeal to anyone interested in local food. The day features several cooking demonstrations by Chicago's top chefs, more than a dozen CSA booths, local produce sales and dozens of exhibitors in the local sustainable world. Tickets to these events cost $10 and are free for kids accompanied by an adult.
For another $15, you can attend a series of workshops on keeping chickens, small-space gardening, vertical farming, composting, vegetarian eating, healthy budget eating, canning and a workshop on whole animal eating with chefs Paul Kahan, Rob Levitt, and more.
For an extra $25 (that's $35 all together) you can attend "The Key to Vibrant Health" workshop by Sally Fallon who is the author of "Nourishing Traditions" and president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. (see the accompanying interview.
Bigger spenders can eat and drink at the Localicious Festival on Friday night featuring top local chefs paired with local farmers who offer tastings along with local libations and the music of Liquid Soul. Tickets cost $75.
For a full schedule of events and workshops, check out http://www.familyfarmedexpo.com
All Saturday event tickets cost more if you wait to buy them the day of the event. So, if you're going to go, buy your tickets soon at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/154467.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times