When I first learned that a large group of Canadian physicians had signed on to a petition to change Canada’s food guide what really grabbed my attention was a reference to this book in the open letter attached to the petition: “Price, Weston. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects.”
I’m a chapter leader for the Victoria Weston A. Price Foundation® (WAPF). I contacted the physician who started the petition, Dr. Barbra Allen Bradshaw, and asked her if WAPF could assist in her efforts to promote the petition. She was happy to accept the offer of help.
I must admit that I felt like doing a little happy dance about being able to help promote this petition (well, OK, I actually did one!). WAPF is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. We advocate the Wise Traditional way of eating that Canadian born Dr. Price documented in his remarkable worldwide studies in the 1930/40’s. He warned us then, nearly 80 years ago, of the serious health consequences of eating the processed ‘foods of commerce’ as he called them. His conclusions have been validated to such an alarming degree that it’s finally come to this – a very large group (over 715 and counting) of concerned Canadian healthcare professionals are petitioning for drastic change to the Canadian diet.
Dr. Jay Wortman is among the physicians supporting the petition. You may remember seeing his 2008 CBC documentary, My Big Fat Diet, which showed remarkable improvements in health of the people of Alert Bay, BC, when they returned to their traditional diet and gave up white flour and other processed high-carb foods.
To spread the word about this important petition, the Weston A. Price Foundation head office has contacted every member and chapter leader across Canada. The Victoria chapter has done blog posts and made facebook memes, with more to come. This petition is pretty big and welcome news in the Canadian real food movement and to WAPF’ers! We really want the guidelines fixed!
The Weston A. Price Foundation is dedicated to restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism. WAPF aims to always provide scientific validation of traditional foodways. This standard echos the stated goal of the petition: to have evidence based nutritional policy be the basis of Canada’s Food Guide. I think most Canadians thought that the guidelines were already based on that.
But, the truth is that for decades, food industry interests have heavily influenced what’s in the guidelines. To me, the most promising aspect of this petition is the call to have the guidelines be created without influence from the food industry.
The current guidelines have failed to protect us from nutrition-related disease. The health of Canadians is in a disturbing downward spiral. We are facing rates of illnesses in epidemic numbers, and the children suffer the worst of it with asthma, life-threatening allergies, seizure disorders, ASD, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, bowel disease, cancer, and the sad list goes on.
"For the first time in history…children are sicker than the generation before them. They’re not just a little worse off, they are precipitously worse off physically, emotionally, educationally and developmentally." Judy Converse, MPH, RD, LD
If drastic changes aren’t made, scientists predict that the exponential rate in the incidence of autism will continue to the point that half of all children in North America will become autistic in just fifteen years. A key step in turning this dire prediction around is to make sure children get truly nourishing real food.
The health professionals behind this petition say that the main problem with the current dietary guidelines is that low quality, high-carbohydrate filler foods such as refined starch and sugar are pushed as the foundation of the diet. They recommend instead that the guidelines should:
These changes could be a huge step towards having the official Health Canada Dietary Guidelines resemble what has long been advocated by WAPF – a nutrient-rich diet that includes foods like butter, raw milk (well, maybe not yet in Canada, but we’re working on it!), cream, cheese, eggs, meat, seafood. WAPF would add recommendations for probiotic-rich fermented foods and old-fashioned foods like liver and cod liver oil. The nutrient-dense Wise Traditions diet has nourished generations of healthy people worldwide with delicious, satiating whole foods that never leave one feeling deprived – topped off with butter!
WAPF recommendations are starkly different from our existing food guide and they are a long way from the reality of how most Canadians eat today. The Canadian diet is loaded with nutrient-depleted low fat, highly processed foods, the majority of which contain GM ingredients, unhealthy industrial oils, and agricultural chemical residues. It’s rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t use health-robbing, highly processed Canola oil. Even our new Whole Foods in Victoria uses Canola oil in its food bar. Based on sound scientific evidence, WAPF strongly recommends that all products that contain industrial seed oils be removed from the diet.
There are chapters all over the world where volunteers like me make efforts to connect producers of nourishing Wise Traditions foods with community members who are seeking good health for themselves and their families. The WAPF Victoria Chapter provides a list of local sources of Wise Traditional foods. Our Victoria chapter has had information tables at farmers markets, local farming events, and health shows over the years.
I wish I would have known about Dr. Price forty years ago, when just like the majority of young mothers at the time, I trusted official recommendations on what the first solid foods should be for my babies. The advice was to start with infant cereal (pablum), which I know now is harmful to a baby’s delicate digestive tract and the development of a healthy, disease fighting gut microbiome. This highly processed, high-carb food has been shown to harm babies by causing gut dysbiosis and by taking the place of nutrient-dense whole foods. Incredibly, Health Canada’s menu plans for infants still recommends several servings of infant cereals a day.
Canada has the highest rate of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in the world. “You speak to some of the older doctors who have been practicing for 20 or 30 years, they almost never saw children under five (diagnosed),” says Dr. Eric Benchimol, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in Ottawa. “Now it’s almost a regular occurrence." Not good news, when the key to health lies in a healthy gut.
Sally Fallon Morell, founding President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and author of the best-selling book, Nourishing Traditions, isn't making an overstatement when she says, "We are receiving genocidal nutritional advice." The Standard American Diet (SAD - such an apt acronym!) guidelines are very similar to ours in Canada, so her comment is right on the money for what is wrong with our current guidelines, too.
If the petition is successful in getting the guidelines corrected so that they are in step with the real food movement, it could vastly benefit small farmers and local economies. What could make more sense than getting back to real, clean food, produced locally by ethical farmers who are stewards of the land and of the animals. These farmers are actually the stewards of our very well being.
The non-profit Weston A. Price Foundation (westonaprice.org) is a member-supported organization ($50/yr Canadian). Please join us! Membership dollars are critical to our daily operational costs and many projects such as production of our weekly podcast, publication of our Wise Traditions Journal and other educational materials, maintaining our large website and advocacy of raw milk, local farms, and small food producers.
This article was originally published in the Rural Observer.
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