In case it wasn’t obvious, when I don’t blog, I don’t feel guilty; a year could go by without my feeling the need to make updates. However, during those times in which I do not blog, I still am thinking, feeling, wondering. And still encountering lots of fascinating things.
A few examples:
I was reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. He cited Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston Price as a milestone showing the dangers of the Western diet. Price was a dentist who visited tribes around all the world and noticed an amazing thing: tribes who hadn’t adopted Western diets had no tooth decay! And when they started eating Western foods, they had cavities and gum disease:
Dr. Price and his wife went just about everywhere in their journeys. They traveled to isolated villages in the Swiss alps, to cold and blustery islands off the coast of Scotland, to the Andes mountains in Peru, to several locations in Africa, to the Polynesian islands, to Australia and New Zealand, to the forests of northern Canada, and even to the Arctic Circle. In all, Price visited with fourteen groups of native peoples.
After gaining the trust of the village elders in the various places, Price did what came naturally: he counted cavities and physically examined them. Imagine his surprise to find, on average, less than 1% of tooth decay in all the peoples he visited! He also found that these people’s teeth were perfectly straight and white, with high dental arches and well-formed facial features. And there was something more astonishing: none of the peoples Price examined practiced any sort of dental hygiene; not one of his subjects had ever used a toothbrush! For example, when Price visited his first people, isolated Swiss mountain villagers, he noticed right away that the children’s teeth were covered with a thin film of green slime, yet they had no tooth decay. What a difference this was from the children in Ohio!
Dr. Price also noticed that, in addition to their healthy teeth and gums, all the people he discovered were hardy and strong, despite the sometimes difficult living conditions they had to endure. Eskimo women, for example, gave birth to one healthy baby after another with little difficulty. Despite the Swiss children going barefoot in frigid streams, there had not been a single case of tuberculosis in any of them, despite exposure to TB. In general, Price found, in contrast to what he saw in America, no incidence of the very diseases that plague us moderns with our trash compactors and cellular phones: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome (it was called neurasthenia in Price’s day), etc.
Price never found a totally vegetarian culture. Modern anthropological data support this: all cultures and peoples show a preference for animal foods and animal fat…
Curiously, all native peoples studied made great efforts to obtain seafood, especially fish roe which was consumed so that we will have healthy children. Even mountain dwelling peoples would make semiannual trips to the sea to bring back seaweeds, fish eggs, and dried fish. Shrimp, rich in both cholesterol and vitamin D, was a standard food in many places, from Africa to the Orient.
The last major feature of native diets that Price found was that they were rich in fat, especially animal fat. Whether from insects, eggs, fish, game animals, or domesticated herds, primitive peoples knew that they would get sick if they did not consume enough fat. Explorers besides Dr. Price have also found this to be true. For example, anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who lived for years among the Innu and Northern Canadian Indians, specifically noted how the Indians would go out of their way to hunt down older male caribou for they carried a 50 pound slab of back fat. When such animals were unavailable and Indians were forced to subsist on rabbits, a very lean animal, diarrhea and hunger would set in after about a week. The human body needs saturated fat to assimilate and utilize proteins and saturated animal fats contain high amounts of the fat soluble vitamins, as well as beneficial fatty acids with antimicrobial properties.
Another example: a Youtube video about nothing.