nourishing traditions

"People are getting sick because they are ignoring their God-given traditional ways..."

These were the words of an 86 year-old Maasai woman I met this summer. When I went on my Weston A. Price-funded trip to Kenya this past August, my objective was to teach the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) principles everywhere I went. But before I even landed in Nairobi, my Maasai friend, Dickson told me by phone,"You teach...and you learn." And so it came to be. Meyanik and I bonded so that she even gave me the necklace I am wearing here.

One of the people I learned from was Meyanik Ene Ringaq, the 86 year-old above. On a Sunday morning, she dropped by the home of our Maasai host, Dickson. Dickson served as our interpreter as we conversed. I've highlighted key bits of the conversation. Here are Meyanik's unvarnished thoughts:

  • on what she ate as a child

When we were young, we just fed on the milk from the cow.

  • on pneumonia

Right now, if it rains, every woman just gets to put on her children, heavy clothes, rain clothes, and sweater to try to prevent pneumonia. They say if they are exposed to the cold, they will get pneumonia, but before there was no pneumonia. There was nothing like pneumonia. If it rained the kids would just go outside and play with the rain water and not get sick. And if they have rain on them, they just get the milk from the cow, when it is warm, they just take it and they don’t get sick.

  • on pregnancy and infants

Expectant mothers, pregnant women, they didn’t go to the hospital. When they delivered, the first thing they were given is the blood, because they figured the blood they lost during delivery can be replaced from the blood from the cow.

So the child, small baby, is raised by milk and the cream. That is the only food; that and breastfeeding.

  • a personal story: her daughter's pregnancy and labor

I have a daughter who is married and just had a baby about a month ago. I went there to stay with [them] before she delivered. But when my daughter and her husband went to the hospital for a check up, they were told that she needed to deliver in the hospital because her hemoglobin was low, so there was danger if she delivered at home. But when they came home, I advised my daughter that there is no need to go to the hospital, that she should deliver at home. There are traditional medicines (herbs and roots) that are used for pregnant women. So I just went to the forest and gave her herbs and bark from the tree, and every time I gave the herbs boiled and mixed with blood...to my pregnant daughter. When the delivery time had come, she just delivered at home. There was no problem.

It’s better to stay with the traditional ways, than just getting all the shots, all the medicine because it’s just like we are taking poison in our bodies.

  • on the differences between the old and new generation

When we were children, when we were youth, we just used simple traditional diets, we wouldn’t have to go to shop and buy things. Compare C. (Dickson's youngest child, a 7 year-old) with the children from before. She’s a bit fat and having a big body. But the older child, the traditional, who used to eat traditional food, they are more stronger than these children. Because they got the fat from the milk.

People are getting sick because they are ignoring their God-given traditional ways which are very, very, very important.

  • on why traditional diets are losing ground

The culture of traditional diets is changing because of education. Before, we did not have any thoughts from the outside. But now...there is a lot of interaction.

If we get people...to help us direct our community back to the old traditional ways, like having seminars for them, we can help them talk and try to get our children back to the old ways. So at least, so that they can have education, but education doesn’t change their cultural or their traditional diets. Let the education change their mind, like knowledge, but not change their diets, their traditional diets, which I believe is like an everlasting life for the community.

I’m very grateful that you have this idea of coming to tell people to go back to their old ways, their original culture, because that is where we come from.

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There's chips involved... Yeah, I feel guilty.

"There's chips involved.... Yeah, I feel guilty," Jane laughed nervously. This was Jane's reply when I asked her about her current diet. Jane is a 29 year-old professional in the city, so it's not surprising that she's pressed for time and that her diet isn't stellar. But, get this. Jane isn't American. She's a Kenyan, from the Kikuyu tribe, living and working in Nairobi. IMG_2753

Yes, professionals in Kenya face the same challenges we do here in the States. Like us, they have far too much to do and too little time to do it in. They are rushed and often grab whatever is available, convenient, or "cool" when they need energy or sustenance. It's a more hurried, harried life compared to the one in the village. And the food is very different, too.

"I have lived in both worlds," Jane said. I was intrigued and asked her questions to find out more.

  • IMG_4938on her childhood

I grew up partially in a village with my grandmother.

  • on what she ate

Mostly healthy, vegetables from the farm. Sorghum. Ugali. We would eat fermented porridge. And then we would also eat, rather drink, milk from the cow, because she used to have a cow.

  •  on her health as a child

Very healthy, because I would rarely go to the hospital. I don’t remember falling sick, as such. Maybe flu or a cough, but nothing too major. To me, it’s the lifestyle I was living at that time, as compared to now, I’m in the city.

  • on her current diet

There’s chips involved. There’s burger. Rice. Lots of rice. Lots of meat, sometimes soda. Yeah, I feel guilty. A lot of cake, unhealthy snacks, mostly.

  • comparing the health of those in the village and those in the city

I would say the city people, per se, we are not as healthy as people in the village. It is so clear when you go to visit them. Someone who’s my age, because they are working, they are walking, they are eating those greens from the farm, they are taking milk from the cow. They look much stronger than I do.

Even my mom would go like, “That tummy needs to go, obviously.” You know, because she is more active and eating healthier, I do believe, better than I do.

  • on what's "cool"

For most of us, actually, we think it’s cool to be seen somewhere at KFC or Pizza Inn. Like [with ]a big pizza or coca cola. But, no, it’s not. Like I said, I know from both worlds which one is cooler....

  • her response to our presIMG_2719entation on nourishing, traditional foods

To me it was a wake-up call. Like, yeah, the village people are not wrong. That’s the way it should be because I have seen the difference because I have lived in both worlds. In the village and now in the city. So, to me, I could relate so much so because I have seen it both ways.

It’s true. I’ve lived it. Eating the natural foods, and now where I am just walking to a fast food place and get whatever.

I don’t want to [die fast], so I have to start, like, recollecting to making decisions to go for the natural foods, for sure.


Are you like Jane, eating chips and feeling guilty? Living a fast-paced life with little space for "slow food?" You're not alone. Let's help each other to do as she suggested, and "recollect" to make decisions for the natural foods. For sure.

Must-see event of the summer!

I left Nairobi last night, around 10:30 p.m, arriving in Amsterdam this morning at 8:00 a.m.  It is now 2:00 p.m. and I am sitting at a gate in the Detroit airport, where I am currently grounded due to mechanical difficulties (not mine, the plane's). Groggy from a lack of sleep and the time change, and unduly Influenced by over 16 hours of flight time and the many movies and trailers I took in during that time, I began wondering what my Kenya trip might sound like if conveyed in "movie trailer" format. [Cue the basso profundo voice of the announcer...] IMG_0039

Destiny brings two strangers together to share a life-or-death message about the link between diet and health. Against all odds, these two American women, Mary and Hilda, who had never before met in person, were chosen to take this quest to Kenya, where, decades earlier, Dr. Weston A. Price himself made startling discoveries about nutrient-dense traditional diets. Armed only with a small, outdated projector, a power point presentation on a laptop, and a limited command of Swahili, Hilda and Mary avert dangers and embrace adventures on their 2 1/2 week quest, criss-crossing the country.

Laugh as they encounter traffic in Nairobi that makes the D.C. area's jams look like a breeze!

Chuckle as they mix English with their attempts at speaking Swahili, saying "How are you-ni?"

 

IMG_2888Marvel as they meet with groups as diverse as Maasai villagers, teachers at a private school in Nairobi, members of a Rotary club, rural soap-makers, and fitness buffs in a local Body & Soul exercise classes.

Initial reviews are overwhelmingly positive:

"I agree 110% with everything these ladies have said. My only question is 'Why are we so few here?'" - Dr. Peter

"I have been eating fermented uji every morning for breakfast, since hearing  your talk." - Judith

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"Thank you for getting us back to health. It was a life-changing talk. Keep it up." - Wanja

 See for yourselves: Did everyone agree with the message of these unusual (and unusually short) American women? Will Kenyans truly return to the nourishing foods of their ancestors, or will they find it too difficult in the end, choosing instead to eat the readily-available, convenient Western foods? It boils down to this: were Hilda and Mary successful on their quest?  Or was their trip in vain? Stay tuned for answers to these questions and for more trip highlights in the days ahead. Weston A. Price principles coming soon to a blog near you!

"Kenyans will want to hear about this. They will say, 'Tell me more.'"

These words were spoken by Pauline, a young Kenyan professional, following our presentation to her organization. She spoke these words over lunch. How appropriate, since our presentation focused on nutrition, right? Pauline and me

Yes, my Kenyan speaking tour has begun. On behalf of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), I have been sent here, along with a fellow speaker, Mary, a nurse, and our trip coordinator, Deb. What I love about this tour is that we are not telling Kenyans that they should follow a certain diet (or our U.S. diet, God forbid). We are recommending that they return to the foods of their ancestors, foods that have nourished their people for millennia.

It’s a beautiful thing to see the WAPF principles resonate with people, as they think about what foods they currently enjoy that were staples of their traditional diet. (“Uji,” for example, is a fermented porridge that many still eat for breakfast.) They also have been given food for thought as we examine food trends, and take a close look at food-like substances that mimic what is best but are poor substitutes. (Margarines and oils, for example, look like the real deal---butter and animal fats---but are so manipulated, our bodies can’t process them well.)

It’s exciting to be in Kenya, for one, because I’ve never been here before. And there are novel experiences at every turn. Earlier today, I put my arm around a giraffe. (Pictures to corroborate the story to come…) Secondly, it’s thrilling because Dr. Weston Price himself came to Kenya, almost a century ago, on his research expedition. In Kenya and its surrounding environs, he met with 14 different tribes, with over 100 members each. In those groups where the traditional diet was still being eaten, not a single tribe member showed any signs of cavities, chronic disease, or ill health. They were vibrant, strong, fertile people. In contrast, those who had begun to eat a westernized diet (a diet with refined flour, sugar, vegetable oils, and other processed foods) showed signs of tooth decay, crowding, and poor health.

New friends/attendees

The teeth are telling, Dr. Price said. And people group after people group, picture after picture, and exam after exam confirmed his theory. What was true in the 1930s is true now. What we eat has a profound effect on our health and the teeth are simple indicators of what’s happening on the inside of our bodies. To preserve our health, all of us---Kenyans, Americans, and peoples around the world---need to choose food that fuels and strengthens us rather than food that zaps and depletes us. Our bodies benefit from nourishing food that has been revered and enjoyed for generations. Such good food can have a powerful impact on our general health, and even our outlook on life. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? No wonder our talks are resonating. May they continue to do so!

I just got off the phone with a Maasai warrior

and he invited me to his house! And I am taking him up on it. I am going to Kenya in two and a half weeks. It's a plot twist in my life that I didn't see coming. How did little ol' me get the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to the other side of the globe and visit with      Maasai and much more!? It's a great story that may one day be made into a major motion picture. (Hollywood, I am waiting by my cell phone.) In the meantime, I'll go ahead and tell you the condensed version in this post. Kenya at sunset

If you read my blog on the regular, or just know me well, you may be familiar with the back story: how my best friend, L., travelled to Africa in the 80's with a Bible translation organization; and how she became very sick while she was there and had to come home. And how, once she was back in the U.S., she heard about the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), and incorporated their dietary principles to a good end. What you may not know is that while L. was in Kenya, she met some Maasai and really connected with their culture, building some strong friendships. She became especially close with one Maasai warrior, Dickson.

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Fast-forward 20 years. L. sends materials from WAPF to Kenya and to Dickson, in particular. In response, Dickson calls L. (yes, he has a cell phone!) and tells her that he would love for someone from WAPF to come and talk to his people about nutrition. The Maasai are becoming sick, as their diet has become increasingly westernized. The Maasai, a traditionally strong and robust people! Dickson found the WAPF materials fascinating and he believes the WAPF perspective--that ancient, sacred, real foods hold the key to health and vitality--may help his people get back to their traditional diet and regain their health.

Since I am the DC chapter leader for WAPF, I was able to connect with Sally Fallon Morrell, the head of WAPF, and the next thing I knew, she had selected me to go to Kenya! I was (and am) ecstatic! To add to my happiness, I am not going alone. I am traveling with two women: Mary, a nurse and WAPF member, who will also be speaking, and Deb, who lived in Kenya for years and can help us navigate the culture, language, and logistics. I feel prepared to speak with the Maasai, as well as other groups in Nairobi, thanks to training I've received from WAPF and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This doesn't mean I'm not nervous; it just means that I am ready as I can possibly be.

In the weeks to come, I hope to share snippets of the presentation I've prepared for Kenya in my blog posts. I will highlight principles that are applicable for us in the U.S., as well, of course! And when I come back, you can bet I'll have pictures of me and Dickson and his family and his village, as well as other aspects of my adventures in Kenya. I can't wait. And I hope you can't either!

 

 

 

 

Local and fun "farm fresh food" seminar! Who's in?!

Are you interested in driving by fast food places, rather than hitting the "drive thru?" Do you want to learn about  foods that give you the most bang for your buck? If you live in the DC metro area, come to this local event that will highlight the joys of farm fresh foods and healthy eating! The speaker is a woman affiliated both with the Amish farm where I get many of my favorite foods, and the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), which has taught me about traditional eating principles. I am beyond thrilled about this event! Hope you can join me, my friends, family, and local DC WAPF peeps at this gathering! See deets below! DC Event Flyer July 2015Make sure to register using the email link above and comment below to let me know if I will see you there!