Katie is on vacation until late July. We’ll have a series of guest contributors filling in, and the first is Kimberly Hartke, publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Today she’s here to talk about the benefits of a local, traditional foods diet.

My husband and I have gone beyond organic in our quest for good health. We now buy 95% of our food from local farmers.

The Virginia Tech Extension Service did an analysis that showed if each household in the state spent just $10.00 a week on local foods, it would bring 1.65 billion dollars annually to the state economy. Just imagine, those of us who care about our health and the environment can make a big difference!

We can each help our nation move away from petroleum based fertilizers, curb pesticide use, improve our soils, and reduce our carbon footprint. All by going out of our way to support a local farmer.  And, we will eat better, regain self sufficiency, and improve our health.

Some will argue, “We can’t feed the world with local food.”

Frankly, I have concluded that these are excuses made by apologists for our current unsustainable industrial food system.  For example, a Virginia Magazine reported that from 1965 to 1997 the number of dairy farms in Virginia declined by 97% from over 37,000 to only 1200; by 1999, there were a mere 996 – which means most of our milk is “imported” from elsewhere.

Of course we can’t feed ourselves if our number of farms are dramatically dropping, which is precisely why we need to change the food system and consciously support local agriculture.

Traditional Diets vs. Industrial Diets

Back in the 1920’s, Dr. Weston A. Price traveled the world in search of primitive tribes untouched by modern processed food. He discovered that those on traditional diets received ten times the vitamins found in animal fats (fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K2) than Americans  of his day. He believed this was the reason behind the dramatic turn for the worse in his young patients’ dental health, compared to older generations.

Photo by Frapestaartje

Since Dr. Price’s research in the 1930’s, the U.S. food policy has reduced animal fats in our diet even further. In 1992, the 4 basic food groups became a “food pyramid.” The pyramid is based on the hypothesis that saturated fat is bad for us. Modern food purveyors have taken full advantage of this presumption, and convinced us we need their colorful, packaged, manufactured fats and oils. They have sold us away from real, natural, fats with slick ad campaigns and TV commercials.

• First, they told us vegetable shortening was better than lard and bacon grease.

• Then, they sold us on margarine and vegetable oil instead of butter and beef tallow.

• Low-fat milk ads told us to shun whole milk.

• Finally, they convinced us that soy oil was better than traditional, tropical oils like palm and coconut oil.

Nature replaced by industry. Real food replaced by food-like substances. All with the help of the boob tube, with us as the boobs! In the process, the levels of critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K2 were reduced in the American diet to a mere fraction of what we need to be healthy.

Photo by Jessica Merz

The skyrocketing autism in our toddlers, depression and violence among young people, infertility among married couples and the obesity epidemic amongst young and old are alarming trends as a result of misguided dietary advice, all of which, as it turns out has a marketing agenda. We were sold trans-fats in the name of health, only to find out decades later these artificial foods are worse for us than the traditional dietary fats long enjoyed by humankind.

The USDA Food Pyramid is a government sponsored marketing campaign, designed to promote the foods of huge corporate producers, which has next to nothing to do with true health and nutrition. It is a highly politicized process, and we saw obesity skyrocket after 1992, when the pyramid advised six to eleven daily servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. It also tipped our scales toward diabetes, degenerative diseases, and despair.

Choosing Local, Traditional Foods

My husband and I are taking all this very personally. We have experienced health challenges as a result of years of following government and corporate food ways.  Today, we no longer follow government guidelines and TV sponsors. We are doing our own research, and going our own way. And, we are much healthier as a result. We have our vim and vigor back, thanks to local foods and friendly farmers!

Photo by Marcy Reiford

We now sponsor a cow to a good life on pasture by owning a cowshare and paying boarding fees. For our reward, we have access to farm fresh milk, and the undying gratitude of a local dairy farmer. We spend the rest of our food budget through farm buying clubs, farmers markets, and farm stores.

I encourage you to make the same choice. Vote with your food dollar for a local, sustainable and healthy food supply. Your children will be happy you did!

Are you familiar with the Weston Price Foundation?  What do you think about eating a local, traditional diet?