Fanciful Folklore Is No Match For Modern Science

The Weston A. Price web site states that “people with high cholesterol live the longest,” and that it is a myth that “for good health, serum cholesterol should be less 180 mg/dl,” adding, “There is no greater risk for heart disease, even at levels as high as 1,000 mg/dl.” This doesn’t jive with every respected scientific authority in the world and is utterly ridiculous in light of thousands of respectable studies.

WAPF correctly points out that processed foods, sugar, corn syrup, and white flour are harmful, but nutritional deficiencies caused by “junk foods” are not remedied by a diet high in meat and butter, animal products that are devoid of plant-derived phytonutrients, which promote health and slow the “aging” process. By contrast, the saturated fat in meat and butter raises cholesterol and is one of the significant causes of heart disease.

Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, is a smorgasbord of woefully outdated and potentially dangerous advice. For example, “If you cannot get your family to eat organ meats when served as such, there are plenty of ways to add them to their food without their knowledge…Poached brains can be chopped up and added to any ground meat dish, as can grated raw liver.” Even if it were not so clearly known that animal products in general need to be strictly limited in the diet, common sense should tell us not to eat the brains of animals in light of what is know about Mad Cow disease and its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Nourishing Traditions
is full of bad science and illogical reasoning and its appeal is dependent on people’s ignorance about nutrition. Fallon and Enig perpetuate long-held nutritional myths by referencing the same people who started the myths in the first place.

Nutrition is a complicated subject, and it takes familiarity with a comprehensive body of scientific studies and articles to devise recommendations to prevent disease and promote longevity. Science is not perfect, but evidence builds on prior studies, and ongoing research attempts to test each hypothesis and check validity in an unbiased manner. Today, we have a comprehensive body of knowledge with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950s documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans and the increased risk of cancer and heart disease.

While Nourishing Traditions has over 200 references, many are antiquated, with poor observations. For the most part, the authors reference their own articles and those of other Weston A. Price Foundation authors. Only fourteen of the references are from peer-reviewed journals published in the last ten years, and for most of those fourteen, the authors misrepresented what was stated in the articles. By contrast, my book Eat to Live contains over 1,000 medical references to peer-reviewed medical journals.
Trackbacks (0) Links to blogs that reference this article Trackback URL
Comments (20) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Schizohedron - August 3, 2006 4:46 PM

"If you cannot get your family to eat organ meats when served as such, there are plenty of ways to add them to their food without their knowledge . . . Poached brains can be chopped up and added to any ground meat dish, as can grated raw liver."

That's got to be the worst thing I've read on the Internet in a month. Positively frightful.

Tracey Dodenhoff - August 3, 2006 7:44 PM

A very important point is missing from your critique of Weston Price...it promotes grass-fed beef/dairy. There is a completely different nutritional profile from grain/soy fed dairy/meat products. It would be really useful to find publications that compare and contrast health outcomes of grass-fed/grazing beef to corn/soy what-ever-else fed. My guess is that these publications are hard, if not impossible to find - likely due to the absence of funding for such research due to the lack of profitable business models based on livestock's natural feeding patterns. If you do know of such studies, it would be great to reference them.

row - August 3, 2006 11:18 PM

Here is a link to a paper john robbins wrote on grass fed beef.Then go to his question and answer page,there is more info on that type of diet.
http://www.foodrevolution.org/grassfedbeef.htm
To be very honest dealing with the weston a price group can be very frustrating. Conversations become very difficult. Do give you some examples ,

The cholestrol theory is a complete myth. They have books to support that view.

Eating lots of Fat and cholestrol is one of the most important things you can do to be very healthy.


The problem the weston price group had with atkins diet was he didn't advocate enough saturated fat!

I have seen papers saying salt is fine.

The china study is complete junk science.

tobacco as long as it is all natural doesn't cause cancer[that came from barry groves web site ,his is on there board of directors]

All the lastest news and studies supporting a vegan diet has nothing to do with removing animal products. the reason the vegan diet is working is because the junk food was removed. Animal products had nothing to do with it. In fact with the junk food removed and keeping the grassfed meat and dairy in the results would have been better.

I am very happy seeing Dr fuhrman taking them on. please read Dr fuhrman's lastest news letter, the whole newsletter is devoted to Weston A Price Foundation

Leanne Veitch - August 4, 2006 5:00 AM

That explains what it wrong with the members of the Westen A price Foundation! Their brains are all damaged with Mad Cow Disease!

*Now* I understand!

Dave - August 4, 2006 7:16 AM

How do we get Dr. Furhman's latest newsletter?

Elijah - August 4, 2006 10:26 AM

You have to become a member @ DrFuhrman.com, if you are not a member you really should try it, it is priceless!!

Henry Abbott - August 7, 2006 1:45 PM

Like Elijah said, Dr. Fuhrman's newsletters are available to members of DrFuhrman.com. But you can also pick a free newsletter when you join his e-mail list on the home page of drfuhrman.com. You can also pick a free newsletter if you purchase a book there.

Joseph - September 11, 2006 3:06 PM

Um, it's hard to take an article like this seriously when it says something like, "common sense should tell us not to eat the brains of animals in light of what is know about Mad Cow disease".

Uhh, I'm pretty sure that if you are going to get mad cow disease from a cow, it doesn't matter what part of the cow you eat. You think that most of the people out there who have contracted this disease were eating the brains? Sorry, your steak will give it to you as well.

And this, {That's got to be the worst thing I've read on the Internet in a month. Positively frightful.} is a really silly thing to say. People have eaten organ meats, such as liver, since the beginning of time and there is plenty of 'peer-reviewed' (read - corporate contrived) research on the health benefits of doing so.

Tracey Dodenhoff - October 5, 2006 5:13 PM

Again, it is very easy to make Weston Price look bad when all the details are not given-

For example-

"The cholestrol theory is a complete myth. They have books to support that view." Please explain to me why this viewpoint is so hard to get people to stop and consider? Granted, not everyone will agree with this position, but there is plenty of evidence to support their position as plausible. Start with the Framingham Heart Study-

"Eating lots of Fat and cholestrol is one of the most important things you can do to be very healthy." Again- healthy fats and cholesterol- not frozen toaster strudels- but fats from animals that are fed as nature intended. Salmon fat is considered healthy- correct? You know why? Omega 3s! ..And grass fed animals have healthy fats as well- you know why??? Omega 3's. If all this is wrong- why do humans even exist today? Do you think that people were removing chicken skin and eating margerine over the past few thousand years? At least try to have an open mind and examine the evidence from both sides before jumping to the conclusion that the Weston Price position is based on "folklore".


"I have seen papers saying salt is fine." Salt is fine- as long as it is mineral rich sea salt -not iodized table salt laden with chemicals. Again- when the whole story is told, it is alot different than "salt is fine".

Please try to represent the full story for both sides- it is dissapointing to think people will dismiss some of WP's positions because of off-the-cuff comments that don't give any context.

Jennifer - October 10, 2006 3:04 PM

I am glad that Dr. Fuhrman is commenting on WAPF also. I really respect his opinion because he will tell you what you don't want to hear. Plus, he does extensive research. I was an Eat To Live vegan for sometime before finding WAPF. Then I became afraid my miscarriage accompanied by a severe uterine hemmorage was caused by my lack of animal products. I am still trying to wade through all the information. I have a feeling that I will probably follow ETL guidelines plus some wild fish, bone broths, pastured meat, and free-range eggs every once in a while. I don't feel that I am easily persuaded WAPF because I really enjoyed being a vegetarian, but if it is best for me I will eat some organic animal products. Please keep the information coming and the debate going Dr. Fuhrman!

Gabriel Vallecillo - October 21, 2006 5:51 PM

I have to agree with other posters in that this article is quite misleading in it's treatment of Weston Price, as it leaves out all the important details. Putting aside who's wrong and who's right, it is always a turn off when a critique is based on only half the story.

In my experience, The Weston Price Foundation writers explore the opposite view in an objective manner, and therefore earn my attention and respect. On the other hand, when someone misrepresents the other side, as this article does, it's an immediate indication that something is not quite right with their argument.

Bruce Summers - November 5, 2006 3:46 PM

I was an almost complete vegan for several years with my wife. We were following the advice of the herbalist Dr. Richard Schulze. It didn't work out very well. Tired, depressed, sicknesses, a pregnancy filled with complications, post partum depression, a child with colic(hungry for more fat), and a general feeling of hunger. We have been adjusting our diets to the recommendations of WAPF over the past several months. Who else out there got burned by the vegan diet plan? How long did it take to rebuild your health?

Diana - January 26, 2007 11:01 PM

Thanks to Dr.Fuhrman for tackling WAPF...I'm disappointed, but not surprised to read other comments suggesting he doesn't give equal time to 'the other side'. The 'other side' is propped up by big business, with incredible resources at their disposal to further the propaganda their vested interest groups depend on to keep society absolutely hooked, and I do mean hooked, on animals as food! People have to realize where the power lies in society, and take more responsibility for doing some homework for themselves...Dr. Fuhrman's work is an aid, but how much information can he include in any critique that isn't meant to be a book long in length...seriously?! I haven't read anything from him that he can't back up absolutely!

Generally speaking, just because someone may not function well on a vegan diet doesn't mean they must need to eat animals or animal byproducts to survive and thrive, it could mean they may be lacking certain nutrients which could very well be obtainable from non-animal sources they haven't tried! I've been reading on the subject of nutrition for 20 some odd years, and have practised veganism for well over half of that; I know lots of people who have improved their health enormously by eliminating animal products from their diet...including one triathalon athlete who has guest presented to the United Nations on how to optimize person and collective health...the vegan way!(Brandon Brazier from Canada)

We need more physicians like Dr. Fuhrman and nutritional counsellors available to help people resolve problems they MAY have with nutritional imbalance for whatever reasons (sometimes mineral absorbtion issues, food allergies, etc, etc)rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that animal products are the answer. But of course that requires commitment, and sometimes people simply want the easiest solution available. Easiest for them, not for the animals that continue to be exploited and butchered unnecessarily in this day and age, for our primarily socially constructed food preferences. Sadly there are just so many unhealthy people on animal based diets out there who will only be convinced by the Fallons of this world to remain in denial. But fortuantely, and thanks to others like Dr.Fuhrman, the tide is turning for more and more folks...promising greater personal health, compassion for the other species who share our planet, and the kind of environmental responsibility our global survival will ultimately depend upon in the long run.

Tracey Dodenhoff - March 4, 2007 6:29 PM

This discussion to me is not about "them versus us"; there are probably some people who feel great on a vegan diet. The point is that there are blanket statements being made out of context, or with mis-information. For example: "The 'other side' is propped up by big business, with incredible resources at their disposal to further the propaganda their vested interest groups depend on to keep society absolutely hooked, and I do mean hooked, on animals as food! " If you know anything about grass fed/pasture finished beef, which you should if you are critiquing it, you also know it is NOT a big business. It is the small family farm that must be sought out for this type of quality. Even Whole Foods does not have "grass finished" beef, but rather pasture fed, but then grain finished which fattens up the animal- not a healthy choice to be sure. So the person who truly cares about the source of their animal products has to hunt out the small, obscure farm, rather than a seemless trip to the local grocery store. Nothing is black and white, and wouldn't we all be alot better off if we realized that there are multiple nourishing traditions that can culminate into a healthy, happy life instead of acting superior in our own choices? By the way, the soy industry happens to be one of the biggest food industries (bigger than beef, chicken or any animal food) and if you think they don't have profit as their bedfellow, you would do well to spend some internet time learning more about soy.

Gerry Pugliese - March 20, 2007 12:44 PM

Check out this post for Dr. Fuhrman's thoughts on many of these comments:

Dr. Fuhrman on Dietary Misinformation
(http://tinyurl.com/23voau)

John - April 2, 2007 1:10 PM

@Joseph,

BSE is a brain and central nervous system disease. You catch it by eating brain and spinal cord matter of infected animals. Cows catch it because infected sheep and "downer" cows are ground up, brains and all, and mixed into their feed.

A simple application of Google and Wikipedia will confirm what I said is true.

Really, if you know this little about a pretty important health matter, just how lacking could your knowledge be in other areas of nutrition?

Read the mainstream science. Read the contrarians. Take note of how they often contradict each other and themselves depending on their target audiences. Don't get trapped in the WAPD echo chamber.

Bret - April 20, 2007 1:05 PM

I did a simple application of Wikepedia and found that no human has ever contracted Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). Humans do develop a related disease known as variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCFD) that is theorized to be linked to BSE and transmitted to humans through the consumption of brain and nervous tissue in infected cattle, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that association has not yet been scientifically confirmed. I suppose if one is going to insult another's intelligence, then they should perhaps become more informed about the subject themselves.

I consider any disease which is always fatal and has no cure, like vCFD and BSE, to be a serious health issue. But let's look at the numbers. According to the USDA, as of December 2003 there have been 153 cases of vCJD in the world - 143 in the UK, 6 in France, and 1 each from Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the United States (Wikipedia cites there have been 184 cases of vCJD worldwide with 160 in the UK, 11 in France, 3 in the U.S., and 10 in various countries to date).

Those living in the UK should certainly be concerned, but it is hardly an epidemic in the rest of the world. Even if you look at the total cases of BSE to date, cited in Wikipedia as 188,515, there were 183,803 cases in the UK, representing 97% of the total cases in the world.

Are there cases of foodborne illness linked to the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables? Are there any deaths associated with these illnesses? I don't know for certain, but my guess is that the answer is yes. Should we then stop eating fresh fruits and vegetables? I certainly will not.

Dr. Fuhrman can and undoubtedly will make reference to the 60,000 studies he has read in-depth and the countless thousands of papers and "peer-reviewed" articles that unequivocably prove his theories on nutrition for the rest of his life. He will also undoubtedly forever rail against organizations that do not fall in line with what he considers to be the unquestionable truth. I feel that Dr. Fuhrman does without a doubt have many good ideas and suggestions. What I do question is the close mindedness with regards to nutrition that he and his supporters possess. I feel that Weston A. Price and the WAPF have much wisdom to share, and that he and they have been unfairly and frequently untruthfully portrayed by Dr. Fuhrman and his associates.

Most of you are probably aware that tobacco, cocaine, quinine, and a host of other substances were once believed to be indispensible for vibrant health. We know now that there is more to the story in these substances, or that the previous beliefs were even completely false. Is it so difficult to imagine, then, that conventional contemporary wisdom regarding nutrition is incomplete at the best and incorrect at the worst? I invite you to study what you may consider to be opposite to your current train of thought regarding nutrition and decide for yourself. Read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon or Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price to see what all the hubub is about. Good health.

Ruth - June 20, 2007 2:02 PM

Just a comment regarding BSE/CFJ: The problem with such diseases is that they incubation time, time before visible symptoms occurr, is unknown for humans. I have heard estimates from a couple of year, over 15 years to several decades. Therefore, we do not know yet, whether or not there will be an epidemic of CFJ related to BSE in the future. The probability is estimated as low, but several countries exclude anyone having lived in in Europe during the BSE crisis from donating blood or plasma (see Canadian Red Cross for example).

Anyway, interesting thread.

Ronnie - December 24, 2008 6:34 PM

Diana, I know you mean well, but you're off base. The big money that you refer to is on the side of Dr. Furhman's argument. The big bucks for the global agribusiness and companies that produce, process and distribute our food is clearly supportive of foods that contain sugar, fructose, soy products, corn and other vegetable oils, etc. This is where the high profit margins are, not in meat products. Meat products are at the lowest end of the profit margin spectrum. You're 180 degrees off base in thinking otherwise. Proctor and Gamble, Monsanto, Cadbury Swepps and many othe global food enterprises are clearly promoting the consumption of cheap, high profit margin mostly higly processed harmful substances as mentioned above.

Nicolai - February 5, 2009 8:44 PM

I have been reading the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and have since been looking on the internet for articles to debunk her. The book may not be spot on 100% just like the food pyrimid has its flaws but the basic message is clear and I feal she does a terrific job of explaining (scientifically) why western diets tend to be so unhealthy compared to traditional meals.

That said, I can't disagree with the article above, except where it states that the book promoted aniaml meat that was not grass fed. It specifically states "grass fed" animals in the book.

The studies may have been respectable but the interpretation of the results may not have been especially when the media gets a hold of it.

I think you are making way too big a deal out of the “If you cannot get your family to eat organ meats..." quote. Seems to me she meant because of taste or perceived grossness, rather than because of real danger. Obviously nobody is advocating cattle brains of high risk for infection.

I agree 100%, nutrition is a very complicated subject, however, you two don't seem to be speaking on the same level. She advocates preperation technieques and wholesome foods.

"Today, we have a comprehensive body of knowledge with over 15,000 articles written since the 1950s documenting the link between a diet high in saturated fat and low in fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans and the increased risk of cancer and heart disease."
This statement seems to lump a lot of things together which the book split. Not all legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds are created equal. The message in the book was that you need to prepare these foods in the proper manner to maximise nutrient availability and minimize potential cons. Therefore, the fact that studies show these improperly prepared and lumped together food as linked to bad health says nothing.

I still have not seen any good argument against the main point of the book.

Post A Comment / Question Use this form to add a comment to this entry.







Remember personal info?
Send To A Friend Use this form to send this entry to a friend via email.