Real Food Face-Off: Nourishing Traditions vs. Nourishing Days

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Sally Fallon Morell, author and president of the Weston A. Price nourishing traditions Foundation, was gracious enough to share a phone interview this week so I could feature her in this series, alongside so very many people inspired by her books. Book? There really is just one that counts, isn’t there? She’s up against one of the real food bloggers clearly inspired by Nourishing Traditions, Shannon of Nourishing Days blog. You can read more about Ms. Morell here and a new beginner’s tour of the WAPF at their recently revamped website.

real-food-faceoff-button2 As the Face-Off draws to a close, I find myself missing it already and a bit touched by the community in this blog world that has been built or enhanced by participation in the project. It has been a real treat to be invited into your kitchens to sit around the virtual table and chat about food.

I’ve been often inspired by the hardships people have conquered with dietary changes and humbled by how far I still have to go on my own traditional foods journey. I am honored by your participation and your commitment to feeding your families real food. The meals we’ve served for $20…just incredible.

Thank you all for your contributions; here’s to ending the series with a bang! (One more secret famous finisher next Tuesday! Here she is – Nina Planck!)

Visit the Real Food Face-Off Introduction page for a full list of all the participants and the complete list of possible questions. Each week, only a handful of the contenders’ answers will be posted here.

Final Week:  Sally vs. Shannon

SallyFallonMorell shannon

Did I feel totally inadequate to interview Sally Fallon Morell??? Since Kelly the Kitchen Kop is a rockstar in my world and Sally is a rock star in HERS, what does that tell you? Like many, I was totally overwhelmed by the tome that is Nourishing Traditions. It was utterly refreshing to hear the author behind the strict words in those first 50 or so pages talk about her love of cooking, raising her own family, and the fact that she IS afraid to try something in the food world. I expected her “3 baby steps” to be more like the giant leaps offered by a number of other Face-off participants, but hers are totally doable, genuine baby steps (maybe big baby steps). Even if she did have to spell the names of some of her favorite foods, I found Sally to be very down-to-earth and much more practical than I expected. I think you’ll love reading her answers to these now-familiar questions! Shannon has been blogging at Nourishing Days for about the same amount of time as me, and she’s done an incredible job building a professional site and running many series that are well worth your while. She’s currently in the middle of a great series called “Huge, but Easy Steps Towards a Nourishing Diet.” I’ve enjoyed reading her all along, and one of my favorite dips, Yogurt Ranch Dip, is courtesy of Nourishing Days. Shannon’s degree in chemistry gives her research credence, and her faith inspires not only her food but her journey toward simple living in all areas. Shannon is also a contributor to Simple Bites, another arm of the Simple Mom sites like Simple Organic, to which I contribute. Way to go, Shannon!

Below are the answers to some real food questions, in their own words:

How do you describe the way you eat when someone asks you to define your food?

I eat according to the principles of traditional diets as outlined by the Weston A. Price  Foundation. (She paused, realized sheepishly that that’s not much of an explanation if you’re not familiar with WAPF.) I put a big emphasis on foods high in A, D and K: pastured butter, egg yolks, liver, seafood, fish eggs frequently, cream, meat. Of course I eat vegetables and fruit and properly prepared whole grains. (How to Properly Prepare Whole Grains)  The emphasis is on nutrient dense food. I think “real food” is the easiest way to articulate it, though I do like to throw in the words traditional and sustainable if I think they are open to hearing it. I find that I can talk too much about my passion for traditional foods, so I am trying to tone it down a bit. Some people just aren’t open to hearing me jump up on my butter soapbox, so I just explain that we are trying to eat sustainably with the goal being to grow and raise much of our own food someday.

What was/is your major incentive for living a real food lifestyle? (How did you come to eat the way you do?)

I’ve always been interested in a healthy diet, and when I began to make changes, especially an emphasis on fats, a lot of health problems went away. My transition was very gradual; I even added a lot of things when writing the cookbook. I’ve always loved to cook, so I simply cook and prepare my own food. I was cooking for 8 people every day for many years. (Sally really knows her way around a kitchen and is no stranger to cooking in bulk!) For me it was a combination of factors. I read Nourishing Traditions (thank you, Sally!) right after my oldest son was born. At seven weeks he weighed less than his birth weight and I was heart broken and desperate to know why I could not feed my baby. Long story short: I was not healthy. I suspect a hormone imbalance, but both of our boys have thrived on a combination of breast milk and raw milk. A larger factor was a change in the way that both my husband and I looked at industrial life as a whole, not just food. Traditional foods go right along with our desire to live a simple, agrarian life. Here’s my journey to nourishing food if you’d like to take a closer look.

If you only had energy for ONE make-from-scratch food, what would it be?

(Sally had a lot of trouble with this one. I could tell that she simply couldn’t imagine NOT making many things from scratch. It just isn’t an option for her.) When you cook for yourself and make good foods, you have plenty of energy to cook from scratch. I always make homemade bone broth and pate regularly, and I make eggs and bacon for breakfast. You can’t do this diet just cooking one thing. Homemade stock. You can use it in just about everything – from soups to cooking grains/beans, and there is no substitute for it in the grocery store.

What food was your favorite that you no longer eat (or shouldn’t eat)?

Granola! It made me really sick, but I made the best granola in the world. Granola is indigestible; I developed a bad case of candida and a lot of digestive problems. We did create a soaked granola for Eat Fat, Lose Fat, but I stayed clear of it. Sugar, in all of its forms. I ate a lot of sweets growing up and paid the consequences. Now I can’t touch the stuff, not even natural sweeteners like honey.

What’s your favorite real/traditional food?

Caviar and pate de foie gras (described by Sally as pate made from chicken livers, etc.) Fat. I think that after years of obsessive fat gram counting, to find out that traditional fats are actually super nutritious blew me away. Now I eat lots of them and have never felt better.

What was the hardest transition to make to real food?

(I prefaced this question assuming there would be no answer, but she easily shot back:) Getting over coffee. It was really hard to do, but I’m so glad I did it. It’s all about perspective. Because many traditional foods are bashed by supposed experts you have to retrain your mind to think like our great grandmothers. I really think we have to get back to an agrarian society before we will see any real changes in the way our country eats.

What’s something you remain afraid to try?

I simply cannot bring my self to consume raw oysters or mussels in any form. Brains, kidneys, anything else involving an organ.

What’s next on your list of changes to make?

I am always trying new things – I really want to do a lot of experimenting with lacto-fermented beverages when I get the chance. More organs. :) I am really trying to get them into our diet, but it is not easy. I grew up eating liver so I can get it down but my family didn’t have that experience.

List your top 3 baby steps to move from a Standard American Diet to Real Food.

  1. Learn to make your own salad dressing; do you know how many ingredients are in the bottled stuff?
  2. Get off industrial fats and use butter.
  3. Include high quality animal foods in diet.
  1. Use only traditional fats & plenty of them.
  2. Add cod liver oil.
  3. Do not buy anything with more than 5 ingredients, and nothing containing HFCS.

What is the worst food (or “food”) a person could possibly put into their systems?

Diet soda, anything with trans fats, commercial salad dressings (because of industrial oils, she clarified after I asked for more on dressings) It’s a toss up to me between trans fats and sugar. Both are deadly, from what I can tell.

If you had only $20 to spend in a week on real food, what would you buy and what would you make?

I’d buy a whole chicken with liver and gizzards for pate. I’d cook the chicken in various ways and make broth with the bones. I’d also buy a dozen eggs and…butter! I would buy grass-fed butter, raw milk, non-organic cheap vegetables, meat with bones, oats. I would make soups and stews for dinner and stretch them with a porridge or grain. Breakfast would probably be soaked oatmeal with butter and raw milk.

Name the top food scoring highest on both the nutritional and budget scale? (i.e., best health benefits for the lowest cost)

liver (chicken or beef) Bone broths seem practically free to me, because I never made them before. It amazes me how nutrient dense stock is when it’s made from something most people throw away.

Biggest drawback of real food lifestyle?

You have to really think about it, and you have to plan for things. (Again, I thought Sally Fallon Morell, of all people, would deny any drawbacks to NT living. But isn’t she right? All the preparation can’t be understated…of course it’s SO worth it.) You can’t really eat out, depending on your location. We are blessed to have a real food restaurant nearby, but because of cost we only go maybe once every month or two. There is very little convenience in the real food world.

What’s the most creative thing you do to make life easier in the kitchen?

I let my husband do some of the cooking. (I don’t think she would be impressed with my husband’s Hamburger Helper, but maybe this would work for some people!) I always, always consider how many dishes it is going to take to make something. We don’t have a dishwasher and most nights I fill the two large dish drainers next to our sink. So if there is a way to only use one pan for dinner, I will find it. (A woman after my own heart! You know it, dear readers!)

How important is organic food?

For fruits and vegetables it’s a good guide, when shopping in normal stores. Looking for organic is pretty hopeless for animal foods – organic milk is ultra high-temperature pasteurized, so what’s the point. I would rather get meats straight from the farmer – since they’re eating grass and so well-raised, they’re usually “beyond organic.” Right now organic can mean large farms, crowded animals, industrialized processes. So to me the term organic doesn’t mean much. The term is defined by our government, after all. What I do think is important is knowing where our food comes from. An apple may be organic but is grown thousands of miles away, so how can we be sure? But the farmer down the road who grows apples using traditional growing practices but can’t afford certification: That’s where we need to be looking. Away from the convenience of the super market and to our neighbors and community.

When eating out, how do make your menu decision (fav “out” food, anything you avoid)?

I always try to order things that are hard to make at home like carpaccio or crab cakes. When deciding where to eat, I try to choose restaurants with good ingredients – I really like top end Mexican food. (I told her I kind of expected French cooking to be her favorite. She laughed easily and said: I do the French cooking at home. I pretty much stick to meat and vegetables. I don’t eat grains at home, so I don’t eat them out. I never feel well if I eat the bread on the table or the pasta dish.

Number one tip you tell your readers about eating healthy foods:

Use butter, and lots of it! And take cod liver oil. That makes up for a lot of mistakes. Don’t eat it if it’s something your great grandmother would not recognize as food.

Follow the WAPF on Twitter @westonaprice.

The fun isn’t quite over yet!

Be sure to come back on Tuesday for the LAST installment of the Real Food Face-Off,  Katie vs. Someone-Much-Bigger-than-Katie! Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to make sure you catch them all. You can also follow me on Twitter.

While you’re here, enter to win a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day or the new Healthy Bread in 5, as well as an hour of free holistic health counseling, and check out my ongoing series on how to prepare and eat grains. We’re talking sourdough this week!

Special thanks to Jo-Lynne from DCR Design for the fabulous Face-Off logos. Please visit her if you are a blogger looking for design improvements!


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38 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I was so glad that Shannon updated the “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food” adage, since my grandmother is young enough that she actually redid all of her old country staple recipes to use things like Campbell’s soup and margarine. And always serves Pillsbury rolls at holidays.

    Great interviews! Sally is such an institution in the real food community, and it’s lovely to hear from someone whose blog I love to read and whose philosophy seems just a little gentler in a world where people think you’re weird if you ask for extra butter, but don’t eat the bread.
    .-= Jenn´s last blog ..Two Quickies =-.

  2. says

    Wow! just awesome. I have been so impressed by this series, Katie, and have learned so much. This one was, of course, amazing!

  3. says

    This was AWESOME. And so helpful. I eat granola EVERY DAY and now I’m a bit concerned. I thought I was doing something right. I suppose I need to start soaking my grains and nuts and seeds first? Good thing I’m taking Wardeh’s eCourse! :-)

  4. says

    thanks – that was fun to read!

    I have a slightly unrelated, but related question. I have been trying to use olive oil, not EV for sauteeing and other “hot” cooking and the EVOO for salad dressings, etc – other non-cooked dishes. But I am finding that none of the “health food” stores – Vitamin Cottage, Whole Food, Sunflower market….. carry ANY olive oil that is NOT EV. Like none – all their olive oil is EV. The only place I can find just olive oil is Walmart. Any thoughts as to why this is? Besides mail order are there other places I should look for it? Is the “Walmart” oil a decent quality or would I be better off using EVOO of better quality for even cooking?
    Just wondering……. since I have been looking for it this week!
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Homemade crackers =-.

    • says

      Jen – I just came to check out the comments and thought I’d give your question a shot. Unfortunately it is difficult to find good olive oil. I used to cook with it a lot, but after a lot of research have switched to saturated fats only for cooking as they are much more stable.

      When you heat an olive oil – EV or not – it’s monounsaturated nature creates free radicals which = very bad for your health. Saturated fats, on the other hand, are more stable when heated which is why they do not smoke at a lower heat.

      Try combining 1/2 EVOO and butter at first and then work your way over to 100% butter, coconut oil, lard, or tallow. Lard is awesome for cooking just about everything, as is coconut oil and butter. That is how I ended up switching over. But you can’t beat EVOO for salad dressings. Chaffin Family Orchards is the best that I’ve found – it’s on my resources page.

      • says

        thanks – I just went back re-read Katie’s posts on olive oil. I liked the updates too, don’t think I had seen that.
        I do use some coconut oil already so I will work on upping that.
        Any ideas on good sources for lard?
        .-= Jen´s last blog ..Homemade crackers =-.

        • says

          Jen – Are you in contact with a local farmer? You can find one at Beef tallow is available at US Wellness Meats through my resources page.

      • Katie says

        Shannon and Jen –
        Just a quick note on using butter for cooking – because of the milk solids, you also have to watch the high temps there. They brown quickly (I’ve done it more than once just recently). Ghee is a better choice, because the milk solids are taken out. You can make your own ghee, although I haven’t perfected it yet!
        :) Katie

    • Katie says

      I flop back and forth on this issue all the time. So many sources say that “a home cook” couldn’t get EVOO hot enough to get to the smoke point, but so many others say just don’t cook with it. When I use EVOO for sauteeing, I keep the temp pretty low – no searing meat, for example. Refined coconut oil is a better choice for that kind of thing. But I know that we all need a liquid oil for cooking that’s just a quick pour! My guess is Walmart OO is probably not great quality. ?? I don’t know if that helps, but at least you’re not alone!
      :) katie

  5. says

    What a coup! Loved hearing Sally’s answers. I had no idea she had a large family too!

    Shannon, you and I have many of the same answers. Hang in there with your search for edible organs, we just recently had some delicious liver for the first time in my 25 year marriage! It can be done!
    .-= Local Nourishment´s last blog ..In Season: Burdock Root =-.

    • Katie says

      Just a quick clarification – Sally had four children, and the other two who regularly ate with them included a lady who helped out in their home and her daughter. I couldn’t figure out how to word that nicely w/o being too lengthy in the box!
      😉 Katie

  6. says

    Speaking of bone broth…

    does anyone know if bones can be REused for broth? (As in, make broth from them once, and then make broth from them again.) We just never seem to have ENOUGH; I was wondering if the same bones could produce a second, weaker broth.
    .-= Rachel R.´s last blog ..A Sharpie in the Kitchen (WFMW) =-.

    • says

      How long do you usually cook it? I know I usually do mine a good 24 hours to get everything I can out of the bones, what if you cooked it 12-14 hours and then re-used the bones and cooked another 12-14 hours and got another batch that way?
      .-= Jen´s last blog ..Homemade crackers =-.

      • says

        I’ve been wondering this as well. When doing a whole crockpot chicken, I cook it for around 6 hours and then save the broth. I was wondering that after taking the meat off, could the already cooked bones be used to make broth?

        • says

          I do this ALL the time – I rarely make broth with uncooked chicken or bones……. It’s always the bones I have saved from cooking that I use for broth.
          You can use an uncooked chicken and take the meat off after a few hours when it’s cooked and let the bones keep cooking in the broth, but I would rather cook the chicken, use it and save the bones. I usually make broth when I have 3 chickens worth of bones cause that’s what fits in my pot.
          .-= Jen´s last blog ..Pampered Chef =-.

  7. says

    This has been the best series ever! I can’t believe you got to interview Sally Fallon!

    My homemade granola always gives me acid reflux and I didn’t know why! I’m so glad I read this!

    THANK YOU all for participating…all the people who have been interviewed and thanks Katie for doing this series!

  8. says

    Love it! Can’t wait to get to add more butter (someday) into my diet!!

    By the way, is it possible to eat 2000+ calories per day of high fats and not be eating enough? My husband and I just keep losing weight! And I feel like we eat a TON! Anyone else have that experience?
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Family Life Updates =-.

  9. says

    Score! So awesome to see Sally comment on “basics” and hopefully will help a lot of people nervous about going to real food more confident.

    I’m also tickled pink that I will happily eat something Sally Fallon won’t touch. LOVE raw oysters!
    .-= Soli @ I Believe in Butter´s last blog ..Non-update =-.

  10. says

    I loved Sally’s quote: “When you cook for yourself and make good foods, you have plenty of energy to cook from scratch. ” I think this is really true. I ate really healthy for my last pregnancy and I had so much energy; I was older with this baby than my last 2 but I was never as exhausted as I was before.

    I agreed with Sally about eating out too; I always like to order hard-to-prepare foods at restaurants, to make it worth it.

    It was so cool that you got to interview her!!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Salmon with Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette =-.

  11. says

    Thank you for this post! It inspires me to make more nourishing broths. It’s interesting to see the differences in 2 related, but different viewpoints.

    I write about healthy eating, too, along with doctoring & schooling. I have 6 kids so I don’t have the quantity of information like you have. Most of my friends are still trying to let go of the junkie stuff, so I just try to bridge the gap. Thanks for being an inspiration to me!

  12. Annie Summer says

    I am new to all this and really enjoy your website! I have one question…
    Having just read about the disastrous effect on “organic” milk of high temp pasteurization, I am wondering if organic butter from the market is any better? I don’t have access to farm products at this point, and now I’m not sure about organic milk products. i don’t want to spend the money for a product that has no life force! Thanks for any enlightenment!

    • Katie says

      Great question – I’ve never heard anything about UHT past. for butter, so I’m guessing it’s not an issue. Butter is generally cultured, or if not, simply has a better shelf life than fresh milk, so it doesn’t need to help to stay around long enough to transport and sell. Again – I’m not certain – but this is my best guess. Organic butter is definitely an investment! I’m not even there yet…

      :) Katie

      • Annie Summer says

        Hi Katie…thanks for the reply. It is a big investment to use organic butter, but not knowing the source when buying from a huge chain market, and knowing so many harmful chemicals etc are stored in fat, we reasoned that the butter might be a good place to start!

  13. says

    Katie-you are amazing! I could spend hours each day reading your blogs, and the links from there, and the links on that one…you get the point! I came here because of the comment in today’s post about whole wheat causing cavities, from Sally Fallon about granola. How would baked granola be any less digestable than boiled oatmeal?
    Anyway, I agree that all the stuff about wheat will make your head spin! I don’t evenhave a grain mill yet, and can’t seem to find a quiet time each week to take the sourdough course ot GNOWFGLINS, so we’re still eating a mix of ww and white flours here.
    Thanks for all the work that goes into your posts!

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