My name is Jim Earles and I am a member of a recently formed nutrition group in the Dubuque area. We are the local chapter of a nationwide non-profit group called the Weston A. Price Foundation, based out of Washington D.C. and located on the internet at www.westonaprice.org. Our local chapter of the Price Foundation holds public meetings on the first Monday evening of every month at 7:00. We meet at the Mississippi Mud Bistro, a coffeehouse located on Bluff Street in Dubuque. All of our meetings are completely free and open to whoever wishes to attend. Each month, the core members of our group offer a presentation on various topics related to diet, nutrition and general well being, all presented from the point of view of the Price Foundation. The only thing we ever have for sale at our meetings are books, in case people wish to learn more on their own. Here’s the kicker, though–the Price Foundation actively endorses and promotes eating meat, eggs, and dairy products of all manner. On top of that, we actively discourage the consumption of soy products, with a few notable exceptions.
So why on earth would I be bringing this information to the attention of a group of vegetarians? It is certainly not my intention to invite conflict or to attempt to “convert” anyone…quite to the contrary. It is my belief that, despite significant and obvious differences, our group shares many important ideals that seem to be common among many vegetarians/vegans/etc. I myself was a vegetarian for about 5 ½ years before encountering the Price Foundation and changing my mind. Again, it is not my intention to try to proselytize on the issue of meat, but having been a vegetarian myself I still feel a great affinity towards the ideals of the vegetarian. I honestly feel that the Price Foundation holds many of those same ideals. For example:
- we oppose Genetically Modified foods
- we support the ideals of organic and biodynamic agriculture
- we oppose unsustainable methods of corporate agriculture, which drive out small farmers, thrive on the use of pesticides and chemicals, deplete the soil, produce an inferior product and cause tremendous harm and suffering to countless animals
- we support efforts to obtain quality foods in a whole state directly off of local farms, thereby supporting small farmers and local economy, and also by-passing the ridiculous state of affairs wherein most modern organic foods travel further from the farm to your dinner plate than do their conventional equivalents
- we oppose food irradiation
- we believe that the typical diet of the average (meat-eating) American is extremely unhealthful
- we believe that the practice of raising vast amounts of grains to feed the cows that are turned into fast-food hamburgers is wasteful and destructive of our environment (Raising a cow on grains is the equivalent of raising a child on a diet of candy. The cow will get very fat–which is what drives the practice in the first place–but it also makes the animals unhealthy, makes them produce copious amounts of methane, and greatly diminishes the nutritive value of the milk and meat which are obtained from it. Exclusive grass feeding makes for a happy, healthy animal, provides superior nutrition in milk and meat, and naturally limits the number of animals that may be raised in one location.)
- we believe that Americans today consume far too much sugar and empty calories, especially young people and especially in the form of soft drinks
- we believe that the answer to a great many of the health problems people are experiencing today is to radically change and improve our diets…although our group would prescribe very different sorts of changes than would a vegetarian group.
All of these points of similarity say to me that we have a lot which we might work together to achieve! Meaningful change in this world can only come about when people overcome their differences and find the common ground. That being said, I would like to suggest that it might be valuable for everyone involved to bring our two groups together in some sort of manner.
If you are willing to read a little bit more, I would humbly submit to you that the Price Foundation might also be able to provide some information as to how to be a healthier vegetarian! I can only speak for myself, but I know that when I was a vegetarian, I never knew about:
- phytic acid and various enzyme inhibitor which are naturally found in all grains, nuts and seeds. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract and thus interferes with the absorption of these substances. Enzyme inhibitors can interfere with digestion. Heat does not neutralize phytic acid or enzyme inhibitors. For this reason, all grains, nuts and seeds should either be sprouted, soaked in an acidic medium (such as lemon juice or whey), fermented or sour-leavened in order to make them more digestible and nourishing. (Many people who are allergic to grains can tolerate them when they are prepared in this way.) Corn is a little different–it must be soaked in a solution of water filtered through dolomite powder in order to free up its vitamin B3 content for human absorption.
- lacto-fermentation, a method of food preservation which was used before refrigeration or canning. It is extremely easy to do and it does not involve using boiling water or heat of any kind. In this way, food enzymes are preserved, and there is actually an increase in enzyme content and vitamin content. Just about any vegetable or fruit may be naturally preserved in this way. There are also a variety of healthy beverages which may be produced using lacto-fermentation techniques.
- the superior nutrition, safety and digestibility of raw dairy products over their pasteurized and homogenized counterparts. The health problems which are frequently attributed to consuming dairy products are as a result of over-processing and improper treatment of dairy animals–grain feeding, synthetic growth hormones, animal parts in the feed, etc. etc. Raw dairy products from healthy, exclusively grass-fed animals are very high in nutrients and these nutrients are much more available to the human body. (The Price Foundation has an ongoing campaign to restore the legality and availability of raw dairy products in this country–see www.realmilk.com.)
- the possible drawbacks of soy foods…a controversial topic among vegetarians, I know! Modern soy foods are frequently not prepared in such a way as to neutralize many anti-nutritive qualities. Soybeans contain very high levels of the aforementioned phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors, and also contain high levels of phytoestrogens (isoflavones). These substances, far from being the panacea that they are claimed to be, are potent endocrine disrupters and goitrogens–substances which depress the thyroid. Once again, heat does not neutralize these substances…nor does sprouting in the case of the soybean. The only way to neutralize all of the difficulties with soybeans and truly unlock their nutritional value is to ferment them by ancient traditional methods into tempeh, miso, natto or traditional soy sauces such as shoyu and tamari. The Price Foundation strongly recommends reconsidering the decision to consume soy in any other form, which means avoiding tofu, texturized (or hydrolyzed) vegetable protein (TVP or HVP), soy protein powder, soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, soy nuts, soy nut butters, soy cooking oil, soy milk and other soy “dairy” products, and imitation soy “meat” products of all kinds.
There is of course much more information which the Price Foundation has to offer, but these are three important items which are vegetarian-friendly. (Veganism is, admittedly, very difficult to reconcile with our group’s perspective.) If any of this sounds like something which might be discussed in a friendly, non-confrontational way at a future Vegetarian meeting, members of our group would be very happy to oblige. Certainly we could learn things from your group as well. I think it would truly be a win-win situation. Please let us know how you feel.
Feel free to contact me any time at this e-mail address: yogaspectrum (at) yahoo.com.
Thank you for your time in reading all of this!