You could spend hours simply studying the pictures contained in Dr. Weston A. Price's book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. You've heard the saying “pictures speak a thousand words” and this book perhaps epitomizes that saying. Though it's packed with text and writing about Dr. Price's studies, it's the pictures that will speak to you about the importance of his research.
Dr. Price went on a tour across the world during the 20th century seeking traditional cultures and how they lived. He was trying to find an answer to the horrible tooth decay, physical structure and declining health of his own dental patients. What Dr. Price found was fascinating – native people living on their traditional diet were thriving, with good dental health and physical structure. But where people had adopted what Dr. Price terms the “foods of modern commerce” – or “white man's foods” indigenous cultures and traditional peoples were suffering.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is the book Dr. Price recorded his findings in – and they're still valid for our generation. Dr. Price has devoted a chapter to each of the cultures he studied: Swiss, Gaelics, Eskimos, North American Indians, Melanesians, Polynesians, African Tribes, Australian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, New Zealand Maori, and Peruvian Indians. He also does a survey of findings from the skulls of ancient Peruvians.
Each of these cultural sketches are fascinating. Dr. Price includes plenty of photographs of people from each culture – those living isolated and on their native foods as well as those living within “modern” society. He includes information on the dental health of each group, as well as studies on physical structure and health. There's complete information on what the diets of each group are like. You'll find it interesting and surprising just what foods give such great health to the peoples.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration moves on to discuss dental problems and issues of physical deformity. Dr. Price gets right to the point on how vital nutrition is to the health of a group of people. He clearly demonstrates that nutritional deprivation (in the form of devitalized modern foods) hurts the children and grandchildren of a family or racial group. He shows how it's not “intermarrying” between races that causes physical deformation – it's in fact adopting overly processed and nutrient poor foods. Again, his pictures speak louder than words.
Dr. Price covers the importance of prenatal nutrition in producing healthy babies. He also demonstrates that it's not just the mother's nutrition but the nutrition of the father that influences how healthy (and free of structural and mental deformity) a child/children will be.
There is some critism of Dr. Price's choice of wording throughout the book – he sometimes refers to natives as “savages” and he refers to those with special needs as “defectives.” His wording is harsh and seems cruel. It's useful to remember here, however, that Dr. Price was researching and writing in the 1930's when politically correct (and kind) terminology was not used. Dr. Price discovered that good nutrition could benefit those with special needs as much as it could those without special needs. He just lacked tactful terminology to describe those individuals.
Dr. Price covers some of his own work in enhancing nutrition with Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. As a mother you'll find the work he did with children receiving a supplemental lunch program to be fascinating. With just one daily meal during the week Dr. Price was able to arrest tooth decay in the children eating at the mission. He outlines completely the lunches the children ate. They were simple and wholesome lunches with plenty of organ meats and good fats. It's easy to model the lunches of your own children (or of your pregnant/breastfeeding self) off of these nutritional lunches. There are also some case studies of children Dr. Price was able to help greatly through nutritional intervention.
Nutrition and Physical Degeneration has several chapters discussing things like soil vitality, vitamin and activators, in food, and how different substances effect plant and animal growth. All help you to understand the big picture of nutrition for yourself and your children.
The book can feel overwhelming at times. It was written as a research volume. However, I think it's worth it for every mother to read. As I said initially the hundreds of pictures within the pages speak volumes as to the importance of nutrition in the health of yourself, your family, and most importantly your children and the generations to come through you. As a mother you want to be fully informed and aware for your family – [raw]