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The people studied by Weston A Price ate less meat than you think

Updated: Sep 11, 2023


Loetschental Valley in Switzerland

While Weston Price is mostly associated with anti-vaccine rhetoric, in actuality, he appeared to hold no anti-vaccine stance. Instead, he was a dentist with a penchant for nutrition research. His research took him across the world to find isolated pockets of humans with perfect teeth (no crowding or cavities). Once he found these people he documented their diets and how they lived. He has been associated with a high-meat diet, but in fact, many of the people he studied ate little meat and Price did not advocate for large consumption of muscle meats. Below I take a detailed look at the first group Price studied, an isolated population in the mountains of Switzerland.


The diet of the Loetschental Valley Swiss

The first group Price identified were the Swiss living in the Loetschental Valley. These were people who were (a) isolated from modern foods, (b) ate only what they produced locally, and (c) had nearly perfect teeth free of cavities and crowding. As described by Price, their diet consisted of

  1. Grains: Whole rye bread

  2. Dairy: Cheese and milk

  3. Meat was eaten once a week.

  4. Plant foods. Later in the chapter, Price mentions that the rye bread and dairy products were consumed "in connection with plant foods." Too bad these plant foods are not described.

Less meat consumption than thought

My first thought is that once a week consumption of meat is far less than the average modern human. So why is Price associated so strongly with meat consumption? Perhaps it's because he did not take detailed notes of the plant foods that were consumed so people are over-emphasizing meat which actually was discussed?


How much dairy did they really consume?

My second thought is that we are talking about a lot of dairy here. If the villagers consumed that quantity of dairy at every meal, we'd be talking about at least a gallon a day per family. A normal cow produces 1 gallon of milk per day, though cows in U.S. dairies are conditioned to produce 7.5 gallons. My guess is that the dairy consumption is overemphasized a bit. Price doesn't actually document exact details of what people ate at each meal either.


What about non-grain plant foods?


Photo credit: Andie Kolbeck

These isolated villagers in the Swiss mountains likely supplemented their diet with a large variety of vegetables and locally available berries. Because Dr. Price did not document the exact specifics of the diet, we must assume the villagers obtained much of their nutrition from these non-grain plant products. As stated above, he only mentioned once in passing that they were also consuming other non-grain plant foods. Likely they were getting a lot of their nutrients from root vegetables, which would store well into the winter, cold-hardy green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach and lettuce, as well as locally harvested berries. Many of the berries that can be harvested wild in the Swiss mountains are considered to be super foods. Vegetables could be fermented to last through the winter as well.


Source

Price, Weston A., and Trung Nguyen. Nutrition and physical degeneration: a comparison of primitive and modern diets and their effects. EnCognitive. com, 2016.


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