Ancestral Living for Families
By Cory and Jabrielle Troup
Ancestral Living for Families is an easy-to-use, thirty-lesson health curriculum—what I consider a sort of “Wise Traditions handbook” for families. Cory and Jabrielle Troup designed the course for families who want to live a simple, healthy, less toxic lifestyle. Though their goal is ambitious—to help reverse the poor state of health worldwide—they recognize that such efforts begin at home. The curriculum, for families whose kids attend school or are homeschooled, empowers parents to educate their children with information and habits that will serve them for a lifetime.
About half of the lessons focus on food— growing it, preparing it and learning how it affects the microbiome and our overall state of energy and health. The thorough lessons are very aligned with the Wise Traditions way of living and eating. For example, the authors cover how to soak, cook and ferment seeds, grains and legumes; “healthier” sweeteners and what happens in the body when we eat too much sugar; and the important role of saturated animal fats. Examples of the wisdom communicated in these lessons include which fish are lowest in mercury (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring); which foods are lowest in pesticides (such as sweet peas, broccoli and mushrooms); why conventional chickens grow bigger than natural chickens (a steady stream of antibiotics); and how Egyptians in 3000 BC cared for their teeth (with frayed tree twig brushes and cinnamon and neem as disinfectants).
The other half of the curriculum focuses on the environment—our homes and communities and our relationship to nature. These lessons touch on a wide range of topics affecting well-being: sleep, sunshine, gut health, grounding, forest bathing, regenerative agriculture, air and water quality, and physical activity.
I loved the curriculum’s layout. On one page at the top of each lesson, the user finds the lesson title, a clearly stated objective, lesson preparation information, a book list and a list of weekly activities that invites families to cement the concepts by applying one activity in real life each week. I also appreciated the effort made to delineate which aspects of the lesson—both activities and recommended readings—are best suited for younger versus older children (some, of course, happily work for all ages). For example, among the recommended readings for younger children are the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children and the If You Were Me and Lived in series; for older kids, the list includes Nourishing Diets: What Our Paleo, Ancestral, and Traditional Ancestors Really Ate.
Although the curriculum covers a lot of ground, the Troups explain complicated concepts in easy-to-grasp language. For example, in the lesson on micronutrients, they make clear the difference between vitamins and minerals, explaining that minerals “come from water and soil” while vitamins “are made from plants and animals.” This section is followed by a list of foods high in vitamins and minerals. The authors recommend that the parent pull said foods out of the fridge or cupboard—“Organ meats, beef, lamb, fish and fish eggs, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds”—so that children can identify them. I internally applauded when I saw organ meats at the top of the list.
I had to look hard to find something I didn’t like about this resource. In the micronutrient lesson, I initially found myself wishing that the authors had said more about what vitamins and minerals do for us beyond helping “our bodies. . . function well.” Why not say, “Magnesium helps your body digest your food better or helps you sleep more soundly” or “Vitamin A helps your cuts heal more quickly”? But then I realized that this type of information is strewn throughout the curriculum. In the lesson about the oral microbiome, for example, we learn that the fat-soluble vitamins A and D are beneficial for oral health. In the lesson on heart health, we get a list of the vitamins and minerals that enhance heart health. It’s also likely that the readings and related activities will help kids dive deeper into the content and fill in information gaps. Nor was I disappointed when I came to the essential oil lesson, which proved wrong my expectation that it would be promotion for some essential oil company. Instead, the focus was on plant medicines that have been used around the world (such as eucalyptus among the Australian Aborigines).
All of the topics are related back to how ancestral cultures lived, and I found the references to traditional First Nations people to be another strong plus.
On the topic of fat in the diet of traditional people, the curriculum states, for example: “Traditional people in the Arctic regions, the Inuit, thrived on seal oil. In fact, they did not consume it a few teaspoons at a time, but they consumed cups of seal oil every day. Seal oil is high in fat and contains necessary nutrients, including high amounts of vitamins A and D.” This type of information is peppered throughout, along with lovely illustrations and photographs.
For homeschooled children, the authors state that while the curriculum can easily be used for a “health/history” unit, it will not necessarily serve as a “science” unit. Quite frankly, I quibble with this qualifier. In addition to diving deep into ancestral lifestyles, Cory and Jabrielle more than adequately explain the science behind every topic: macronutrients, micronutrients, ketones, amino acids and more.
Currently, the curriculum and its accompanying note cards are not available in hard copy and can be purchased only as a digital product (in printable PDF form) from the livingancestrally.com website. I would encourage the authors to make it available in printed format for those who would like that option.
I’m so glad I took on the assignment to review this curriculum. Even though it is designed with families in mind, I personally benefited from the content and its delightful presentation. In my estimation, it is a wonderful resource for families to educate their children, looking to ancestral ways for vibrant health and a happy outlook on life. Two thumbs up.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2022🖨️ Print post