Lovers of freedom and farm fresh food the world over are watching the Michael Schmidt trial, as are farmers, consumers, environmentalists, federalists, libertarians, conservatives and liberals. The extensive news coverage and the highly anticipated outcome of the proceedings, makes this the Scopes Monkey trial of sustainable agriculture. The fate of all small farmers truly hangs in the balance of this court decision, which is expected August 1. Schmidt, a highly educated farmer, has stood up as his own defender against a battery of eight government attorneys, and he has amassed incredible support from the general public, turning many raw milk skeptics into believers.
Coincidentally, an Ontario farm lad born nearly a century ago is intimately connected to the Michael Schmidt case. Dr. Weston A. Price carried out research in the 1930s and 1940s, research that provides the rationale for the contemporary raw milk movement. Weston A. Price was a curious dentist who studied the traditional foodstuffs of pre-moderns. His research demonstrated the importance of nutrient-dense foods—of which raw milk is a quintessential example—in the human diet. Many raw milk drinkers today have been inspired and motivated by Dr. Price’s research. The U.S.-based Weston A. Price Foundation advocates the consumption of whole, raw milk from pasture-fed cows through A Campaign for Real Milk.
In his dental practice, Dr. Price observed an alarming degeneration of the dental health in his patients, namely rampant tooth decay and, in the younger generation, dental deformities resulting in crowded teeth.
Because of his inquisitive mind, Price set out on a mission to discover the root cause of this marked deterioration in dental health from one generation to the next. He suspected that nutrition might play a role, especially the new fangled foodstuffs introduced in the manufacturing era.
His quest took many years and to many continents. Weston studied the Masai warriors of Africa, the Eskimos of Alaska, the highlanders of Switzerland, Peruvian tribes in the Andes and South Sea Islanders. He focused on traditional primitives still nourished by their ancient foodstuffs. He also evaluated the health of numerous individuals who left their tribe and relocated to urban settings. He sent back 10,000 samples of their foods to America for laboratory analysis.
In a nutshell, Weston A. Price discovered the vital importance of high levels of vitamins and minerals in human diets, in particular, high levels of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, K, found exclusively in certain sea foods and the fats of animals raised on pasture. These fat-soluble vitamins are necessary for the body to assimilate minerals and build strong bones and teeth. Raw dairy from grass-fed cows and goats figured prominently in the diets of a number of these cultures, such as North Africans, Masai tribes people and the Swiss highlanders. Even though these people had no access to dental care, and no dental hygiene habits, they suffered few cavities or dental deformities. Most had perfectly straight teeth, with room in their dental arches for the wisdom teeth.
Price described his findings in a book considered the classic text on nutrition, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Today, two nutrition foundations carry on his work, the Weston A. Price Foundation on the East Coast, and the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation in California. Price’s work is also being popularized by hundreds of websites and bloggers. The ripple effects of his pioneering work on nutrition have truly stimulated much of the growth in sustainable agriculture around the world.
The expanding legacy of an earnest Ontario farm boy is now causing conflict between farmers trying to meet the demand for these traditional foods, and the inflexible government bureaucracies in the U.S. and Canada. Health officials and agricultural agencies seem to be unaware of the sea change in eating habits that Price’s discoveries are now inspiring.
Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit with 400 chapters and 10,500 members worldwide. There are 16 WAPF chapters in Canada; four of them are in Ontario .To learn more about the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, please visit the website, www.westonaprice.org or call the national headquarters for a free brochure, (202) 363-4394. Kimberly Hartke’s blog is Hartkeisonline.com.