Long before commercial baby formula shortages were a concern, Sally Fallon Morell had concerns about the product sold on supermarket shelves. Sally is the president of The Weston A. Price Foundation and the author of “Nourishing Traditions.” Today, Sally discusses why commercial infant formula is problematic for babies’ growth and healthy development.
She goes over formula’s ingredients, which in many cases include soy, which has an extremely high estrogen content that can interfere with a baby’s hormone function. She covers the history of commercial formula and how it has been marketed to parents. She discusses what alternatives parents have (including homemade formula made with raw goat, cow milk, or even meat). And finally, she makes dietary recommendations for couples hoping to nourish their little ones well and those who hope to conceive a baby one day.
Visit Sally’s website for her blog: nourishingtraditions.com
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Listen to the episode here
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda.
They are made with skim milk, corn sweetener, vegetable oils, and synthetic vitamins and include no animal fat. It might sound like the ingredients of some breakfast cereal bar or candy, but I’m describing the ingredients in most commercial infant formula. This is episode 381, and our guest is Sally Fallon Morell morale. Sally is the Founder and President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a prolific author, and an advocate for optimal health based on wise traditions.
In this episode, Sally discusses a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit for the past few months, commercial formula. Long before shortages were a concern, she and the foundation had their own concerns about the product sold on supermarket shelves or even given away at the hospital to new parents. She talks about the history of commercial formula and its effective marketing to parents.
She discusses what alternative parents have, including homemade formula made with raw goat or cow’s milk or even meat. She goes over commercial formulas’ problematic ingredients, including soy, which has an extremely high estrogen content that can interfere with a baby’s hormone function. Finally, she makes dietary recommendations for couples hoping to get pregnant one day.
Before we dig into the content, two quick things. I want to invite you to come to our Wise Traditions conference in Knoxville this October 2022. Sally will be speaking in person, along with a number of other stellar speakers, including Dr. Larry Palevsky, Catherine Austin Fitts, and Dr. Kelly Brogan. I’ll be there too. Register now at WiseTraditions.org. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves wherever you are, check out our Action Alert tab under the Get Involved section of our website. You’ll find many ways and step up to defend food and medical freedom.
Sally’s Website blog: NourishingTraditions.com
Welcome to the show, Sally.
Thanks, Hilda. It’s great to be back.
I love talking to you, and it’s important at this time for us to address the issue. There’s been with formula and the US. Apparently, there was some crisis at one of the plants, and it caused a shortage, and then parents were going crazy trying to figure out how to feed their children.
It was the Abbot baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, which apparently produces about 40% of all the formula in the United States in just one plant. The conditions there were terrible. The dryers, for example, were pitted. You can get bacterial colonies because you can’t ever clean them. There was water on the floors. There was a whistleblower who got the FDA to do something and they shut the plant down. They then reopened it and shut it down a week later again.
There are intractable problems at this plant. One thing I do want to stress, powdered formula is never sterile. You can’t make powdered formula sterile. It has to be produced in the most pristine conditions for it to be safe. The reason they finally shut this down after years of violations is that some babies got sick, and a couple of babies died from the formula.
The formula in and of itself, was it one of those soy-based ones?
I don’t know that they’re doing soy-based formula there. We can talk about that, but they were doing what they call specialized formulas for babies who were very allergic to things. These were the only formulas that the babies could take. We are opposed to all commercial formulas, but if that’s the only thing your baby can live on, it’s a huge crisis.
Some parents have been turning happily to the foundation, Dr. Mercola, and others who are promoting homemade baby formulas. We’ve already discussed that. What are the benefits of this compared to the commercial formula?
We have a recipe for homemade baby formula. It’s based on raw milk and other whole food ingredients. The parents need to make it every day. It takes about ten minutes. You get the hang of it very quickly. We reckon that at least 20,000 babies have been brought up on this formula. We haven’t been keeping records but we have never heard of a baby developing foodborne illness from this formula.
Our page on this formula had a 1,000% increase in traffic. When you Google homemade baby formula, our art page comes up first. The doctors and some spokesmen were saying how dangerous this was, but when you think about it, it’s a double standard because we’ve never had any problems with this formula. The formula that was taken off the market was killing babies. It’s not dangerous. Mother’s milk is raw milk. If raw milk is dangerous, then mother’s milk is dangerous.
You even have an iteration of this baby formula that doesn’t even include milk in case the kid has dairy sensitivities, right?
Parents need to prepare food for their children. Otherwise, they’re being brought up on junk food and processed food.
We have a cow’s milk formula, a goat milk formula, and for babies who can’t do dairy. We have a meat-based formula, which is based on liver and broth. I do want to point out that the Gerbers used to make a meat-based formula for babies who couldn’t do dairy. They abandoned that when they came out with the soy formula, which was supposed to be for babies who couldn’t do dairy. It’s used a lot in the WIC program because African-Americans are so-called lactose-intolerant.
I can’t say enough bad things about the soy formula. It should be completely banned. Soy is toxic, and it causes thyroid problems and digestive problems, but most seriously, soy is loaded with estrogens. This causes endocrine disruption in these little babies. Boy babies are supposed to have the same levels of testosterone as an adult male for the first six months of life. These testosterone levels program the boy to express male characteristics of puberty. If you are giving them a soy formula, that’s going to be inhibited in some way. Babies on soy formula have 16,000 to 22,000 times more estrogens in their bloodstream than babies on milk-based formula.
It said in one of our brochures that it’s as if the baby were taking five contraceptive pills a day. This is shocking.
That’s what the Swiss government said when they were first asked to approve soy formula. They said, “It is the equivalent of giving the baby five contraceptive pills per day.” At first, they didn’t approve it, but the industry has a way of getting to these bureaucrats, and things get approved.
We haven’t even mentioned that soy is one of the most genetically modified crops ever. In other words, they’re also going to be getting roundup glyphosate and so forth.
I’ve had people say, “As long as I use organic soy, it’s fine.” No, it’s not fine. Soy is a toxic plant. In Asia, it was only used as a flavoring after a long fermentation. It gets rid of most of the toxins, but the fermentation does not get rid of the estrogens in the soy.
Some people are concerned with homemade baby formula, not so much about its safety but about the hassle. Why shouldn’t they grab a commercial formula off the shelf that’s not soy-based?
Babies are a hassle. That baby’s going to be a hassle for at least eighteen years. Parents need to be prepared to prepare food for their children for eighteen years. The father, the mother, the grandmother, or somebody in the family needs to prepare food. Otherwise, they’re being brought up on junk food and processed food, and that is a very terrible thing to do to a child. Somebody needs to embrace the hassle.
For this baby formula, we have instructions online. It’s not simple, but it’s not that complicated. It’s a recipe, and it’s cooking. It’s preparing food. There’s no heat involved, but babies are a hassle. The more you embrace that hassle to make sure they’re getting nutritious food starting when they’re babies, the less hassle you’re going to have with other problems. You’re going to have fewer behavior problems, fewer doctor visits, and fewer conditions that keep you awake and worrying all night. Children are a hassle.
You might as well get into the habit of providing for them. As you said, it avoids more hassles in the long run.
You’re either going to have a hassle preparing food, although it’s a very joyful thing to do to prepare food for babies and children or you’re going to have other hassles that are much worse.
We talked about soy. What other ingredients in the commercial formulas can lead to problems?
This commercial formula is supposed to be scientific. There’s nothing scientific about the commercial formula. First of all, it’s based on skim milk. There is no animal fat in commercial formula. If you go to a store and buy milk replacer for calves, which is basically formula, the third ingredient is animal fat.
For calves, the baby cows?
Yes. Scientists know that baby mammals need animal fats or they don’t grow properly. Why? It’s because animal fat contains lots of things, but one of them is cholesterol. Babies require a lot of cholesterol. Mother’s milk is extremely rich in cholesterol and contains special enzymes to ensure that the baby absorbs all the cholesterol. The baby needs cholesterol for the development of the brain, and nervous system, for hormone production, testosterone for little boys is made out of cholesterol, and for the development of the gut to have good digestion. That cholesterol is there for a reason.
Nature doesn’t make mistakes, but scientists make mistakes because here we have a formula that’s based on skim milk and powdered whey. Whey proteins are extremely fragile, so they’re all denatured when they’re powdered. They then sweeten them with some corn sweetener like fructose or high fructose corn syrup. That’s the wrong sweetener. The formula needs to be sweetened with lactose, which is the human milk sugar. They put vegetable oils in formulas. It’s the worst thing for the baby.
Finally, a whole smattering of artificial vitamins and minerals in forms that are very hard to absorb. Unfortunately, one of the things they’re putting in is iron. Now, they should not be doing this. The original formula did not have iron because they recognized mother’s milk is low in iron. That’s because the baby needs zinc for the first 6 to 12 months of life. The iron interferes with the zinc. There are things that aren’t there that should be there. There are things that are there that should not be there. The formula is an indictment of what we call science because it’s not science.
Sally explains the longer-term effects of commercial formula that often show up when our babies are of elementary school age. She also goes into what foods nourish parents and parents to be the best.
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When did they first introduce formula in the US, do you think?
When my brother was born, that was 1950. I remember my mother making the formula with condensed milk and Karo syrup. That was the first formula. It must have been in the ‘50s or the ‘60s that they came up with the powdered milk formula.
Originally, was it meant to supplement mother’s milk or to replace it, do you know?
They promoted it as better than mother’s or breast milk and pushed it into the hospitals. If you have a baby now, you receive in the mail advertising for formula.
They send you home with samples, I remember.
That should be completely outlawed. Sweden has achieved a 95% breastfeeding in the first month by simply forbidding formula companies to provide free samples.
A lot of mothers do understand that breast is best, but because of their busyness and part-time jobs or what have you, they want to supplement with formula. Maybe the pediatrician tells them their child isn’t growing sufficiently, so they feel like, “I’m missing something. I better add formula.” What would you say to those?
These things are true. A lot of mothers don’t have enough milk, or the babies don’t thrive on their milk because we give terrible advice on what their diets should be. We don’t prepare them for pregnancy and breastfeeding the way traditional people did. There’s a lot of this, and this is why we came up with our homemade formula because there’s a great need for a healthy formula for babies.
Ideally, everyone would breastfeed. All the mothers would eat a good diet, and they’d all have plenty of milk. We always want to work towards that ideal, but meanwhile, these babies need to be fed. We have had such wonderful feedback about the formula and how well the babies do. We feel that we’re on the right track.
When we came up with this recipe, we started with whole raw milk. After all, breast milk is raw milk. We add extra whey because human milk is richer in whey. We add extra lactose because human milk is richer in lactose, and it makes sense because a human baby has more neurological requirements. We add cod liver oil to make sure the baby’s getting the fat-soluble vitamins. If the milk doesn’t seem rich enough, we add cream. There are a few other ingredients that we also add to bring the formula up to the levels of nutrients we find in mother’s milk.
I’m so pleased that so many children have thrived on this.
We get wonderful feedback.
To the naked eye, I see moms giving their babies formula, and the baby seems fine.
First of all, they’re not all fine. A lot of them have failed to thrive or get too fat. Chubby babies are good, but you want to start obesity at age six months. They then get into school. They have problems with school. They can’t concentrate, and their brains are not fully developed, and then the digestive problems that we’re seeing in our children now.
Not everything shows up at first.
You don’t know if the baby is meeting his milestones. Does he have allergies? There are all sorts of questions you can ask. I did want to tell you a story about the soy formula. I have a friend who worked with autistic children. One day, she got the idea of asking the mothers what kind of formula or breast milk they had when they were babies. They all replied that 100% of these autistic children had started off on soy formula.
Nature doesn’t make mistakes, but scientists do.
Yes. Again, this is another ominous thing and something we need to warn parents about.
I have heard of a company called Serenity Kids that produces an A2 formula. Have you looked at that one?
I was on their website, and this formula is a definite improvement. It’s whole milk. They have animal fat and they’re using lactose. It’s better than the other formulas. It might work in a pinch, but the milk is how you superheated and powdered. There are some problems with the vitamins in it too. It’s better than the others I have looked at.
Is it true that when formula consumption went down in the US because mothers were realizing, “Breast is best,” the companies producing it started making an effort to export it around the world?
It’s such a scandal. The people being interviewed remembered there was this big scandal with Nestle’s formula. There was a movie showing a mom walking with her baby and going into this hovel and mixing the powdered formula with this filthy water that was coming out of the tap or the moms being given formula in the hospital and so stopped breastfeeding, and then they go out, and they can’t afford to buy formula. That was a scandal, and it hurt Nestle. It gave them a very bad name, which they still carry because of that. They’re still selling powdered formula in third-world countries. They’re still giving formula to mothers in the hospitals. There’s a lot of money in formula.
Interesting to note the panic that arose in the US when the formula wasn’t available. I didn’t realize how many young moms were still dependent on it here.
Only 30% or 40% of babies are breastfed in this country. We have a long way to go to young women to breastfeed. People think it’s dirty. They’re embarrassed to breastfeed. I’ve encountered this in my own family. It’s, “I don’t want to do that. It’s too yucky,” and you can’t convince women to breastfeed if that’s how they feel. We then say, “Here is the next best thing. It’s not ideal, but we have an excellent track record of babies thriving on our formula. This is what makes people mad at me, but sometimes they do better on the formula, our raw milk formula, than on their mother’s milk.
Especially if the mother’s diet is deficient, her milk will also not be able to provide all that the baby needs.
The baby is not getting everything it needs.
Since this has come to the fore, what do you see in the future in terms of breastfeeding versus formula, in general?
I would certainly hope that this crisis would alert new parents that they need to breastfeed. The mom needs to breastfeed because this could happen again. It’s the worst possible situation you can imagine to be in. I would hope that there would be more encouragement for breastfeeding because of this. I haven’t seen it and heard of any increased encouragement, but let’s hope it’s there. I also am very encouraged by the new focus on our formula. It’s a good way for parents to get this message about how important the diet is for these children and get them conversant that raw milk and its benefits. By the way, I’ve heard from several raw milk farmers who tell me that their sales are up.
That’s so encouraging. The other thing is that don’t wait until the baby is born to start eating a good diet. The preconception diet is important as well for the baby’s optimal health.
This is one of the amazing things that Dr. Price discovered was that there were pre-conceptual diets. For six months, the couples ate nutrient-dense foods before conception. These were foods very high in fat-soluble activators, A, D, and K. This means organ meats, liver, animal fats, butter, and raw milk is extremely important for preconception to build up your nutritional source. Not only for the mom but for the father as well because we know that a good diet affects the quality of the sperm.
That’s so important. I want to ask you the question I’d like to pose at the end. I don’t know if it’ll be related to formula and infant health or not, but if the reader could do one thing to improve their health, what would you recommend that they do?
Let’s talk about moms wanting to have children. Number one is to get off the industrial seed oils. It means getting off of all processed food. Eating butter, lard, tallow, egg yolks, cream, and animal fats is absolutely the most important step for anybody to regain their health, but certainly for creating a healthy baby.
Wonderful advice. Thank you for this time, Sally.
Our guest was Sally Fallon Morell. Check out her blog at NourishingTraditions.com. Now for a recent review from Apple Podcasts. Monterey Kate said, “Thank you for your amazing show. I’ve learned so much since I started reading in the last few years. The first episode I read was the interview with Zach Bush. That was the moment of my great awakening during early 2020.” Kate, thank you so much for your review.
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About Sally Fallon Morell
Sally Fallon Morell is the founding president of the Weston A. Price Foundation and editor of the Foundation’s quarterly magazine. The Foundation has thirteen thousand members and over three hundred local chapters worldwide. The Foundation has changed the conversation about what constitutes a healthy diet and has stimulated many fine writers to challenge the legitimacy of the low-fat, low-cholesterol paradigm. The Foundation has also alerted the public to the dangers of modern soy products, especially soy infant formula.
Sally is also the author of “Nourishing Traditions.” Her latest book, co-authored with Thomas S. Cowan, MD, is “The Contagion Myth: Why Viruses (including “Coronavirus”) Are Not the Cause of Disease.”
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.
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 lives in Brandywine, MD with her husband Geoffrey Morell. She is the mother of four and has four beautiful grandchildren, all brought up according to Nourishing Traditions® principles.
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