The earliest recipes we have, from Samaria, are all for broth. Yes, bone broth made with bones, tendons, and cartilage! It may sound foreign to us now, but it’s time to rediscover this wise tradition. Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, today reviews principle #10 of the 11 wise traditions dietary principles: how all traditional peoples included bones in their diet, typically in the form of a gelatin-rich broth.
Sally explains how broths and stews have many benefits for us. Among other things, they are a great source of collagen – good for our mood, and detoxing – and glycine – good for our skin, liver, and heart. She reminds us that broth has dopamine-regulating benefits, and helps improve brain function, & build stronger bones. Finally, she tells of how ancient cultures included bones in their diet and how we would do well to reacquaint ourselves with this health-preserving tradition ourselves.
Listen to the episode here:
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
After enjoying fried chicken or roast turkey, we often throw away the bones. Did you know that all traditional cultures made use of animal bones? It’s usually in the form of gelatin-rich bone broths. A lot of us are missing out no bones about it. This is Episode 280. Our guest is Sally Fallon Morell, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Sally is a woman at the forefront of the Slow Food Regenerative Agriculture Alternative Health Movement. She is a researcher, author and popular speaker. In this episode, she reviews Principle number 10 of the 11 Wise Traditions Principles, which covers the use of animal bones in the diet. Sally explains the many ways we can benefit from including them in our own diet, especially as bone broth, which is great for detoxing, boosting mood, strengthening bones, along with improving cognitive function and decreasing our addiction to coffee, sugar and even chocolate. She also reveals the various ways in which some traditional people groups included bones in their diet, explaining customs of the Inuits and the Native Americans, for example.
Welcome to the show, Sally.
Thank you, Hilda. I’m glad to be back.
We are going through our series based on the Principles of Healthy Diets. We are on number 10. Can you tell us what that’s about?
This is a surprising one, all traditional cultures made use of bones in some way. They consumed bones in some way. This is where a lot of the diet plans nowadays are missing out because in traditional cultures, even if they had dairy products, they also took the bones of small animals. They ground them up, made a paste and added these bones to their diet. They ate softened fermented bones or they made bone broth. All of these methods, especially the ground-up bones, would give you calcium in the diet. You do need that extra calcium. You cannot get adequate calcium from vegetables and meat. First of all, you need the dairy products but you also need these bones.
This sounds so foreign to us in the Western culture, doesn’t it?
Yes, it does. If you look at some of the diet plans out there and they say, you’re going to get your calcium from broccoli, kale or whatever, you’d have to eat about eight cups of broccoli every day. It’s obvious that it can’t be done even if you could choke down eight cups of broccoli every day. The traditional cultures understood this. They knew they had to eat bones to have strong bones. They didn’t know what calcium was or anything like that. They knew they had to eat bones pretty much on every continent. I’ve found descriptions of grinding up the little birds and the little mammals, and putting the bones in their food.
This is not just what Dr. Price found, but it’s also something the foundation has come to realize through much study.
Through the reading of different observers and so forth. The Eskimos fermented the fish and the bones become soft. When they ate the fish, they were eating the bones and that’s how they got their calcium.
The only time I eat bones is like in sardines or some fish.
We have dairy products in our diet, so we don’t necessarily have to eat bones. People who are allergic to dairy, who can’t do dairy, won’t do dairy or whatever, this is very important to get these bones. We tell people to make a chicken broth and cook it until the bones get soft. You can crush up those bones and add them to your soups to get your calcium.
The Principle says that all traditional cultures make use of animal bones. It is a variety of ways in which they access the nutrients from the bones as you’re saying.
It’s the main way that they would get calcium. I finished a chapter on the African diet. They fermented bones and made a fermented bone paste. It sounds ghastly but this was a very important part of the diet, especially in the tribes that didn’t have cattle or goats. There’s a tendency in modern dietary schemes to minimize the need for calcium. Dr. Price found that these traditional cultures had at least 15 milligrams of calcium per day. You can get that very easily with a couple of big glasses of raw milk or several ounces of cheese. If they didn’t have those types of foods, they had to get that calcium from bones.
The bones are for our bones. I’m thinking of this because I keep seeing not only older people with boots on their foot because they broke their ankle, but I see young people as well breaking bones all over the place. Is this one reason why you think they’re deficient in calcium?
That’s one reason. We put a big emphasis on the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K. You need those fat-soluble vitamins to use the calcium properly to make healthy bones. You also need phosphorous, which we get from lots of foods including bones. You need the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K, and you need the calcium and phosphorus. We are seeing very fragile bones even in babies. This shaken baby syndrome where a baby will be taken in with bruising and the parents haven’t done anything. The bones of these babies are so fragile because of vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency and who knows what? The parents were accused of shaking the baby and causing injuries in the baby. It’s malnutrition that’s the problem here.
That is so heartbreaking. Can you tell us more about the different people groups around the world that use bones and in what ways they do?
We’ve got the Eskimos who are fermenting the fish. We have people in Africa who ferment the bones and make fermented bone paste. We have several descriptions of American-Indians grinding up bones of small animals. There’s another way. We have the almost universal practice of cooking the bones in water. You’re not just cooking the bones, you’re cooking the joints, tendons, cartilage and everything. That’s not only giving you calcium, but that’s giving you all the components of the cartilage, the glycine, the special amino acids and collagen. It’s a universal practice. The Eskimos made stews and soups by cooking the bones of their animals. It was a widespread practice in Africa. In Asia, they have bone broth with every meal. The beef broth is a fixture of the Korean diet. The American-Indians would put hot rocks in the water and put the bones in to make a broth.
I feel like people are coming around to this broth idea because of your book, Nourishing Broth. It’s the understanding that we do need the nutrients that come from these bones.
The earliest recipes that we have are from Samaria. They found these tablets with 25 recipes. They’re all recipes for broth made with bones. They put blood, organ meats or meats, but they were all recipes for broth. There were three others on another tablet that they found that were like meat pie, a chicken pot pie, chicken with a broth and a gravy in the bread casing.
This might be hard for some people to hear who try to avoid animal foods altogether.
One of the nutrients that are hard to get from plant foods is calcium. First of all, there’s not a lot of calcium in plant foods, not in the concentration that we get in the animal foods. It’s often blocked by things like oxalic acid, which make it very hard to absorb the calcium in the plant foods. You would expect to see a lot of bone problems and growth problems in people on a plant-based diet. If you do have a plant-based diet and you can get a little animal food in, and especially the broth is protein sparing. If you add that small amount of animal food to a plant-based diet, you’re going to do a lot better.
You don’t necessarily need a lot of animal foods. They need to be high quality if the amount is very limited. I can’t think of a better example than Africa, where most people are very poor. They can’t afford a lot of meat. It is a plant-based diet, yet as long as they’re not starving to death, they do well on the diet. That’s because the animal foods that they are eating give them these fat-soluble nutrients. They eat things like insects and frogs. When they do kill an animal, they eat the whole animal including the organ meats and then they cook up those bones.
That’s less wasteful and more sustainable when you use the whole animal than the way we tend to process animals here in the United States most of the time.
One of the worst things is that butchers are not allowed to put organ meats in sausage and hotdogs. That’s where the organ meats should be going. That’s the way they do in many cultures. They hide them in the sausage and the scrapple. All these organ meats are hidden. They’re not allowed to do that here in the United States. That source of organ meats, which any child would eat is gone for us. Our health suffers and our bone health suffers.
Sally, I love all the talk about broth and using these bones. Growing up in the US and in the area in which I did, it’s a little bit foreign to me about how to make broth. Can you give us some how-tos?
The most difficult thing is to save your bones from chicken. If you can get some of the chicken feet and heads and things, I know that’s very foreign to a lot of people. Even if you save the bones and cook those up, you’ll have a nice bone broth. I was visiting with a woman from Italy. She said, “We grew up that way. We never threw the bones away.” You would make a stew with the pieces that had the bones, the tendons and the cartilage. That collagen is good for you. It’s good for your own collagen, but it’s also very good for detoxification. People don’t realize that the components in broth help you detoxify and also for your mood. This is one of the amazing things about broth. It helps regulate your dopamine levels. You don’t have to regulate your dopamine levels by eating chocolate or drinking a cup of coffee. You’re getting that nice, good, happy feeling from the soup that you eat every day.
That sounds so nourishing and wonderful. Nobody wants to be addicted to coffee or to chocolate.
The reason we are is because these fundamental components of the diet are missing. We don’t feel well. We don’t feel naturally happy. A piece of chocolate makes us feel happy or sugar makes us feel happy. If we’re eating a traditional diet with all the good glycine, the bone broth and everything, we should not feel tempted by these other ways of raising our dopamine.
The thing is on our Weston A. Price Foundation YouTube channel, we have videos on how to make broth that Sarah Pope made some years ago.
We have quite a few videos, recipes and all sorts of ways to learn how to make broth. It’s not hard.
It’s a little bit foreign when we haven’t grown up with that. We’re trying to rediscover those wise traditions. That’s why we have this show.
Most of us did not grow up with these traditions. When immigrants came to this country, they were encouraged to forget their food traditions. It was patriotic to buy these cheap American foods. Americans were told that it’s patriotic to buy cheap food. It was deliberately suppressed. We have to come back through it with an understanding of why, and forge new ground like pioneers because we’re learning to do these things all over again.
I’m thinking back to my own childhood. My mom is from Mexico. She and my nanny would sometimes make this caldo. It’s this broth-based soup that was pungent because they would put cabbage in it and stuff like that. As a little American kid, I would turn my nose up at it. Now I realize it was one of those wise traditions.
My mother was from the South and she made chicken broth. We accepted that. She used it in gravy and soup. She told us it was good for us. She told us it would give us beautiful skin. There was a health tradition associated with the chicken broth. That was something that we continued in our family to make the broth.
Isn’t there a South American proverb that says, “A good broth can resurrect the dead?”
One is, “Fish broth will cure anything.”
That’s why people say too that chicken soup is good for the soul, or you give it to someone who is sick because there’s something nourishing about it.
It’s helping you detoxify. It’s helping you get over your cold and makes you feel good.
Have you heard of oxtail soup, Sally?
Oxtail soup was a real staple in my family when my kids were growing up. I could get a package of oxtails and make a soup that would last for two days for the whole family. Everyone loved it. I put barley in it, cut off all the meat and cook the bones until they were falling apart. That makes a beautiful, delicious hearty soup. Oxtail soup was a big deal in our family.
This is a good conversation for people who say, “I can’t afford to eat organic. I can’t afford to eat this way,” because this is not expensive.
I had a real tight budget when I was raising my family, four hungry children. The way you do it is with soup. You save those bones. You make the oxtail soup. We had lentil soup twice a week for years because it was inexpensive. I could put all the leftovers in there. I had the broth. The kids were happy with it.
I hope that’s encouraging to people who are thinking, “How do I eat this way?” I have a friend that was at a butcher shop. She got things that were going to go into some recycling bin from the butcher for a song, and was able to extend her family’s food budget.
The soups and stews are the way to do it. You can put anything in there. They stretch a long way. They’re very filling and satisfying.
Talk to us again about the benefits of what we’re getting from those bones. How do they help our brain and bodies function?
First of all, we’re getting calcium especially in the traditional cultures from eating those ground-up bones. When we make the bone broth, we’re getting all the benefits of collagen, the detoxifying benefits of glycine, and the dopamine regulating benefits. There’s a whole list of benefits we get from the bone broth.
Including brain function that’s improved.
We need a lot of those nutrients for our brain like the glutamine. It’s not the ultimate brain food. The ultimate brain food would be animal fats. Your brain is made of cholesterol and fats, but the bones are for your bones.
You’ve told me and I’ve read in Dr. Price’s book that when he traveled the world, he expected he would find some cultures that ate solely plant-based diets, yet he didn’t to his surprise.
This was said to be his greatest disappointment. He had hoped to find a culture that was healthy and eating only plant foods. He did not find that. He found that they went to a great deal of risk and trouble to get the animal foods even when they were at war with each other. There was a tribe in the interior that came down and got the shellfish. The people they were at war with left little piles of shellfish for them because they knew that would starve if they didn’t have the shellfish. Even when they were at war with people, they still exchange the animal foods.
I wish we were that decent with one another now.
All of the sacred foods were animal foods. All the foods that were considered very important for having healthy babies were the animal foods. I would include broth and sources of calcium like raw milk and raw cheese as sacred foods. It’s very important for pregnant women.
That’s our next principle that we’re going to talk about next time. What were those foods? It’s good to know that they were primarily based on these animal products.
It’s very interesting that science completely validates what these people did to prepare for pregnancy. We can talk about that.
The broth that you buy in boxes or cans at the store, is that the same product?
I don’t think so. It doesn’t gel in the refrigerator. I’m very concerned about what happens in the flash pasteurization process. It’s in aluminum lined containers. During that flash pasteurization, the aluminum can move into the broth. It’s best to make your own. There are brands of frozen broth that you can get. Our shopping guide has many listed. It’s going to be more expensive, but you can have it sent to you.
I’ve heard some people call the gelatinous broth gold. That’s how you can tell it’s good because it is jiggly.
It’s jiggly even at room temperature. It’s jiggly on the counter.
I often end the interview with a question that I ask all the guests. Maybe pertaining to the use of the bones in our diet, what would you recommend that our audience do if they wanted to improve their health, Sally?
I would recommend that they learn how to make bone broth and chicken broth. It will not only improve your health, but it’s the first step to becoming a great cook. When you have your chicken broth there, you have the basis for a wonderful soup. You have the basis for a production sauce. All the great recipes in cooking involved broth.
Thank you. This has been helpful. I hope that our readers are inspired to make use of bones somehow in their diet as traditional peoples have.
About Sally Fallon Morell
Sally Fallon Morell is the president and founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation. She is probably best known as the author of the best-selling cookbook, Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. She has written multiple books including “Nourishing Diets,” “Nourishing Broth,” and most recently “The Contagion Myth.” She is the founder of A Campaign for Real Milk (www.realmilk.com) and the president and owner of NewTrends Publishing, serving as editor and publisher of many fine books on diet and health.
In 2009, Sally and her husband Geoffrey Morell embarked on a new venture: they purchased a farm in Southern Maryland. P. A. Bowen Farmstead is a mixed-species, pasture-based farm that produces award-winning artisan raw cheese, whey-fed woodlands pork, pastured poultry and pastured eggs. The farm does not use corn, soy, GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, hormones or antibiotics.
Sally received a Bachelor’s Degree in English with honors from Stanford University, and a Masters Degree in English with high honors from UCLA. She speaks French and Spanish. Her interests include music, gardening, metaphysics . . . and of course cooking. She is the mother of four and has four beautiful grandchildren, all brought up according to Nourishing Traditions® principles.