Real Food Symposium 2011: The Skinny on “Real” Fats
Culture Club 101
Culture Club 101 is a grassroots company inspired by the Nourishing Traditions cookbook which sponsors workshops, films, lectures and events such as this symposium on the theme of healthy food traditions. The main speakers were real foods activist David Barker; Rosann Volmert, DO; grass farmer John De Bruin; and Mark McAfee, of Organic Pastures Dairy. The second disk contains interviews with those speakers plus David Wetzel of Green Pasture Products and Joan Grinzi of Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
In this two-DVD set you get a good history of how corporate “science” works. The average malnourished American brain has a short attention span and short memory. Most people probably don’t remember that back in 1962 the American Medical Association declared that the anti-fat, anti-cholesterol fad was not only foolish and futile but also carried some risk. In 1965 the American Heart Association accepted as fact that high vegetable oil intake led to high risk of heart disease. Yet by 1984 the experts were recommending margarine instead of butter.
Today, nobody in his right mind is recommending trans fat-laden margarine. There is no telling what version of the truth this kind of science will be promoting next year. The various “experts” can’t even make up their minds what food is. In the 1970s laws were changed to allow various chemical concoctions to be called food.
Don’t get me wrong. I like science. Good honest science is great. We just don’t see much of that any more. We are busy playing video games, watching reality TV, or telling everybody on Facebook when we are brushing our teeth and going to bed. With all those important things to do, we don’t have time to follow the money behind most published studies or sort out the conflicts of interest. We don’t notice that salt, eggs and margarine are good or bad depending on what day of the week or month it is. We don’t think about what it means when analysts state that “more study is needed.” Actually it means two things. Number one: the conductors of the study want more money to waste on another inconclusive study. Number two: we don’t know. “More study is needed” has become the standard appendage to almost every piece of research done these days. We all put our blind faith in the science of “we don’t know.” Corporate pseudo-science is constantly changing its mind but somehow each time we’re sure they finally have it right, even when they say they don’t know.
Later on we learn of the findings of more honest science. To the extent that cholesterol levels might be weakly correlated with a health problem, correlation does not prove causation. Large studies have been done and all have failed to prove cholesterol or saturated fat cause any health problem. Further, there is plenty of evidence that these nutrients are crucial for good health. Real science says nutrients like vitamin A and D, folic acid, niacin, CoQ10 and L-carnitine are good for you. The best, and sometimes only, sources of those nutrients are animal foods that fake science declares will kill you.
Disk one wraps up with talks from two farmers. The first is John De Bruin, an aerospace engineer who became a farmer and a cowboy. He follows the Polyface Farms model put forward by Joel Salatin. They both set up their farms to encourage the cow-ness of the cow and the chicken-ness of the chicken. Mark McAfee is well-known to most of our readers. He started Organic Pastures, the largest raw milk dairy in the U.S. Mark is always well-prepared to defend raw milk. One example is a Cornell University study looking at illness and death by dairy products from 1973 to 2010. During that time 422,000 became ill from pasteurized dairy (over 11,400 per year) and seventeen died. Over that same time period, 1,100 (twenty-nine per year) were sickened by raw milk and zero died. So what do I think of all this? I’ll give you a hint. My thumb is UP.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2012.