I attended Wise Traditions, the 11th Annual Conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) this weekend.
The theme this year was The Politics of Food. Sally Fallon Morell, President of the WAPF, opened the session by stating that the number one political issue of the 21st century is food freedom rights.
“There is no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.”
“There is no deeply rooted historical tradition of unfettered access to foods of all kinds.”
“Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to obtain any food they wish.”
Why are Food Rights Essential?
A critical message of the conference and of the Weston A. Price Foundation itself is the power of food to serve as the basis for good health and as a healer of disease. The rise of processed and industrial foods coincides with the rise of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, infertility, etc.
The foundation’s teachings are based on observations made by Dr. Weston A. Price, a nutrition pioneer in the early 20th century. He studied isolated nonindustrialized communities seeking to establish the building blocks for the perfect human diet. He found common dietary practices among isolated societies living free of the “diseases of civilization.”
- No refined or denatured foods.
- Every diet contained animal products.
- An emphasis on the nutrient density of foods rich in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.
The Politics of Food
The highlight of the conference was Joel Salatin’s keynote address at the Saturday night banquet; Everything I want to Eat is Illegal. Salatin’s Polyface Farm was featured in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan and the documentary Food, Inc. Among 1,500 people indulging in beef tataki, wild salmon, and butter, Salatin debunked 12 common myths commonly used to argue against a sustainable food system. (Read a transcript of Salatin’s The Politics of Food at the Weston Price website).
“A Local Transparent Food System Creates Integrity.” – Joel Salatin
A sustainable local food system can feed the world with safe and technologically advanced methods without being elitist or contributing to global warming. Or, as Salatin says, “Don’t call me elitist for wanting to eat like my grandmother!” Salatin stressed the need to decentralize food production, which can revitalize local economies and make our food safe.
“We Are Stronger Than We Know.” – Jeffery Smith
Jeffrey Smith spoke on The Politics of GMO’s. He is the foremost advocate for eliminating genetically modified organisms (GMO) from our food supply. Despite proven health risks, these foods show up unlabeled and are government approved. But the strength of educated consumers has begun to shift food manufacturers away from using GMO ingredients. Food companies know that it is in their best interest to avoid using GMO ingredients as more consumers seek out no-GMO choices …” we are winning.”
“Redefine the food safety issue from ‘How’, to ‘Why is food not safe’.” – Judith McGeary
The Politics of Food Safety was explored by Judith McGeary, an attorney, farmer, and founder of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. McGeary focused on The Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510), due to be voted in the Senate this week. There are many concerns that this bill will threaten small farms and food processors. The larger issue is that we are focusing on how to make our food safe in an industrialized food system instead of having a critical conversation about why food is not safe. “More paperwork is not going to make our food safer.”
Food Freedom starts with Individual Responsibility
After a full weekend of inspiring speakers and personal conversations with farmers and consumers from all over North America, my take-home message was that there need to be two approaches to create a better food system.
Buy from local farmers and responsible food producers who care about your health and the sustainable approach to food production where environmental impacts, animal welfare, and workers’ rights are taken into account. (My post on How to Buy Real Food – 8 Helpful Guides list excellent resources for finding these foods in your area).
Get involved in the political process. Call your representatives when crucial food bills, like S.510 and the Farm Bill, are up for a vote. It is our responsibility to educate our government representatives on the importance of localized food systems.
Wise Traditions was jam-packed with sessions that I could not attend. But you can get more perspectives from my fellow Real Food Media bloggers. Don’t miss out on these posts!
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.