By Dr. Tom Cowan
As we launch our exciting partnership with Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm, I want to share why I believe animal foods should be a part of every person's diet for optimal long term health.
One can attempt to address which foods are the healthiest for human beings in many ways. Some people look at pH levels, some at nutrient levels, some point to peer-reviewed science that claims health benefits from eating a certain diet. Others share stories about what happened to them when they adopted a particular diet. For me, the dietary compass I use and have used for decades is the work of Weston A. Price. The brilliance of Price's work is that he asked a simple yet profound question: Do any groups of people in the world have perfect teeth and perfect health for generation after generation? Like the story of the guy with the lantern searching the world for an honest man, Price searched the world for people, both "primitive" and "modern," with perfect health. He found 14 such groups with perfect dental health and perfect physical and mental health. All 14 groups included animal products in their diet, without exception. In fact, Price decried that he was unable to find any healthy groups of people that didn't eat a liberal amount of animal products--specifically, animal fats--in their diets.
I have known about the work of Weston Price for more than 40 years. His research was a big part of why I decided to become a doctor. I was convinced that food was integral to our health, physically, socially, and economically. I set out in my career to be a food doctor. Forty years later, I have yet to see credible evidence that any group of human beings can live generation after generation with optimal health and completely avoid animal products. As far as I can tell, this has never been done.
The type of animal products included in the diets of the people Price studied varied widely. Sometimes it was meat, sometimes dairy products, sometimes creatures from the seas. Always, they ate the entire animal, always they used the organs and bones of the animals, and always they seemed to eat as much animal fat as they could get. Again, there are no exceptions.
For those who wish to correlate this epidemiological evidence with the findings of our anatomy and physiology, I suggest reading Lierre Keith's wonderful book, "The Vegetarian Myth." She explains in detail the reasons human beings are meant to eat animal products, from a variety of perspectives, including ecological and spiritual. Simply put, whether we consider the health of the individual, the society, the ecology, or the spirit, including animals in our diet is imperative. The raising and consumption of animals seem to be a part of how we live out our destiny as caretakers of the earth and all its creatures. It is an integral part of the human experience.
The choice of which animal products to include in your diet and how much, as compared to plant food, is very individual. The guidelines for this should be entirely based on the quality of the animal products you can obtain, what you can afford, and how you feel eating a particular type of animal product. All animal products consumed, like all plant foods, should be grown, harvested, and processed in the healthiest, most humane way possible. That means only pastured meat, eggs, and dairy products, only raw milk or fermented milk products, only wild, not farmed fish, and on and on. More guidelines can be easily found by consulting the Weston A. Price Foundation.
I am excited and honored that we are partnering with Joel Salatin and his crew. They are true pioneers in bringing real, healthy animal foods back into the modern diet. This is one simple step in righting the ship of our world that is listing so badly at this time.