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I've been on the Weston A. Price Foundation (hereafter WAPF) bandwagon for quite some time now, though I always thought most of its constituents committed themselves to the diet blindly and over-zealously; so aside from reading the occasional post at blogs like Cheeseslave, I've stayed away from the "Real Food" movement (a term I take issue with, but I digress). Unfortunately, Kristen Michaelis' book confirmed a lot of what I'd been wary about in regards to WAPF followers. I tried to read this with an open mind, but it's quite possible I was too biased to give it a fair shake. Take my words with a grain of salt.
First off, I will say that Michaelis includes very little that is not easily available online. I'm not talking about information that you have to dig around for or that's hard to compile. Almost everything in her book is easily accessible by searching "WAPF, pregnancy." Or "WAPF, fertility." The Weston A. Price foundation has a page of dietary guidelines for pregnant women, and many have made blog posts that contain the essentials. What makes this book unique--or what's supposed to make it unique--is the emphasis on a pre-conception diet. She discusses the eating habits of various traditional peoples, and how folks prepared for pregnancy for up to year by undertaking a specific eating regimen high in specific nutrition. That one, tiny slant is not enough to make this book hold up its weight, but all right, I guess.
Another unique argument Michaelis offers (I would like to give credit where credit's due) is that food science and nutrition science is young and therefore we can only trust it so much. A fair point, in my opinion. In terms of food science timelines, we're like, pre Dalton atom model. Every other year, scientists suggest something different about how we should eating. Dairy is good and then it's bad. Eggs raise cholesterol. Oh no wait, only the good kind. Etc etc. Because of this, we should look back to how people in previous generations ate for thousands and thousands and thousands of years, because hey, they found a system that worked, right? It's a compelling argument, though I've been very convinced by certain science writers like Gary Taubes etc that fat is good and sugar is mostly bad (as well as have been convinced by my own lab reports). Further, we really don't know that much about how previous peoples at e. Weston A. Price might have traveled extensively, but not that extensively, and people all over the world have been eating a variety of different ways for a very, very long time.
I took issue with Michaelis' judgmental tone and lack of evidence to support her claims. YMMV.
I always laugh when I get to the "how do I pay for it?" sections of these books, because they're always assuming you're wealthier than you are. If my partner and I spent any more on food, we could not pay rent, and we already live in a very low-income neighborhood. She mentioned that she feeds her large family on a budget smaller than what's allotted by food stamps, and I rolled my eyes again, because though she was just making a point about expense, the way EBT is alotted does not allow for families to buy huge sections of calves in advance like she mentioned doing. Oh, but I guess when I buy my new house (like she did), I'll go ahead and buy a new giant freezer, too.
Again, I digress.
Then she mentioned that one way to afford her diet is that her family is vegan 70% of the year for religious reasons, and I'm like -- okay? After you spend a book arguing that the most important foods are raw milk, grassfed and pastured meat, and pastured eggs you throw that out there as your money-saving tip? She seemed to specifically avoid doing a price breakdown of how her family keeps their food budget under control, but it would've been really helpful to see how one manages to keep an affordable WAPF diet. I can only assume that it's a lot of legumes and grains, which alas, I can't eat, because I'm diabetic, and carbs.
I hope I'm not being too unfair. I agree with so many of the ideas. I survive on a diet of bacon, raw cream, eggs, and fish myself.
When I begin trying to conceive next cycle, I think lots of her advice (which I already knew) will help me give the child the best start possible. I wish that she had spent more time talking about why specific foods were so helpful (why eggs? what vitamins do they have again? A, I think??), how to afford it, and less time fetishizing ancient cultures, which seems to be a hallmark of these texts.