Two weekends ago, Institute for Integrative Nutrition (my nutrition school alma mater) hosted a huge conference in NYC, which I had the pleasure of attending. It welcomed speakers including Deepak Chopra (formerly an endocrinologist, now a mind-body guru), Dr. Mark Hyman (Functional Medicine superstar), Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Kathy Freston (both vegan diet advocates), Joe Cross (of the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead) and my personal favorite, Founder of the Weston A Price Foundation, Sally Fallon.
Fallon and her organization, the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF), advocate what's called a "traditional diet." It's about eating the way humans have always eaten, not for sake of a fad diet or faddy research, but because it's our human nature. In other words, no new-to-the-food-chain products like canola oil, modern soy, genetically-modified foods, grains that have been refined or not prepared correctly, sterilized food (irradiated or pasteurized), non-organic eats, and absolutely no low-fat anything. It is, they argue, essential to human life for people to get enough healthy plant and animal fat, including the ever-vilified saturated fat and cholesterol. As Fallon points out, saturated fat and cholesterol have always been a key player in the human diet and have major health benefits (from brain health, to hormonal balance, blood sugar regulation, anti-microbial properties, thyroid- and metabolism stimulants, and more).
Fallon focused her cross hairs on the 2010 USDA School Lunch Program (similar programs are also imposed on hospitals and prisons across the country). "Our major concern," she says, "is the severe restriction of saturated fat and cholesterol. The current guidelines would allow children just under two eggs per day which would account for their total cholesterol intake." And since fat and protein always come together (as even lean meat and fish still contain saturated fat and cholesterol) one would wonder just how much protein these children would be served to eat at school.
Conveniently, the USDA is stocked up on fake animal protein alternatives. Read: government-subsidized, cheap-ass genetically-modified soy and other low-cost low-nutritive grains and legumes. Soy is highly estrogenic and also toxic if not soaked or fermented properly (which it most certainly will not be in the faux ribs or burger patties), and genetically modified foods are highly allergenic -- all cause for concern for growing children.
Additionally, the USDA guidelines slash the salt intake of students to 1500 mg, which is just about 2/3 of a teaspoon per day (a nutrient the body desperately needs for cellular function). And lastly, there is absolutely no restriction of carbohydrates in school lunches. Yes, blood sugar- and insulin- spiking carbs have not been reduced at all, even in the midst of a childhood diabetes and obesity epidemic.
The USDA admits that these school lunch nutrition guidelines have not been tested. And Fallon points out, their own words and admissions state that they are well aware of the untested nature of their guidelines. They do say, however, that the guidelines are similar to the American Heart Association's DASH diet and therefore, have to be healthy. WAPF offered a science-backed defense to the pseudo-science of the sloppy and biased USDA School Lunch Program. And for that reason, Sally Fallon's closing words went like this: “[Weston A Price]...It’s the most subversive nutrition literature out there.”